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LIBRA  R Y 

OF  THE 

Theological  Seminary. 

PRINCETON,  N.  J. 

CW  Division  F Z 93.6 

SMf-  , .M93L. 

Book . 


THE  PATAGONIANS 


Digitized  by  the  Internet  Archive 
in  2016 


https://archive.org/details/athomewithpatago00must_0 


HUNTING  GUANACO  AND  OSTRICH,  VALLEY  OF  RIO  CHICO, 


THE  PATAGONIANS 


A YEAR’S  WANDERINGS  OYER  UNTRODDEN  GROUND 
FROM  THE  STRAITS  OF  MAGELLAN 
TO  THE  RIO  NEGRO 


By  GEORGE  CHA WORTH  MUSTERS 

RETIRED  COMMANDER  R.N. 


^enrnb'  ©tritixm 


WITH  MAP  AND  ILLUSTRATIONS 


LONDON 

JOHN  MURRAY,  ALBEMARLE  STREET 
1873 


The  right  of  translation  is  reserved 


Printed  by  Watson  and  Hazell,  Loudon  and  Aylesbury. 


• - 


PREFACE. 


In  submitting  the  following  pages  to  the  public,  I am 
conscious  that  some  readers  who  desire  exact  and 
scientific  descriptions  of  the  geography  and  geology  of 
Patagonia  will  be  disappointed ; but  it  must  be  urged 
as  an  apology  that  instruments  could  not  be  carried 
nor  safely  used  under  the  circumstances.  The  course 
travelled  was  as  carefully  laid  down,  by  the  help  of  a 
compass,  as  was  possible  ; and  the  map  of  the  country 
is  so  far  accurate,  and,  if  incomplete,  at  least  is  not 
imaginative.  To  others  who  may  perhaps  eagerly 
expect  tales  of  stirring  adventure  and  hair-breadth 
escapes,  such  as  are  usually  recounted  as  the  every-day 
occurrences  of  uncivilised  life,  I can  only  express  the 
hope  that  this  faithful  record  of  life  with  the  Indians 
all  the  year  round,  if  not  very  sensational,  will  serve 
at  least  to  make  them  really  at  home  with  the 
Tehuelches.  It  is  a pleasanter  task  to  record  my 
thanks  to  those  by  whose  assistance  the  results  of 
my  journey  have  been  utilised ; foremost  of  whom  is 
the  venerable  ex-President  of  the  Royal  Geographical 
Society,  Sir  Roderick  Murchison,  whose  kindly 


VI 


PREFACE. 


reception  and  introduction  of  the  returned  traveller  to 
the  Society  are  gratefully  acknowledged.  My  obliga- 
tions are  scarcely  less  to  Clements  Markham,  C.B., 
whose  unrivalled  knowledge  of  the  early  history  as 
well  as  the  geography  of  South  America  has  been 
freely  placed  at  my  disposal ; and  to  Dr.  Hooker, 
Director  of  the  Royal  Gardens,  Kew,  for  his  courteous 
assistance  in  identifying  some  of  the  plants  observed  : 
while  to  Mr.  Rudler,  of  the  Museum  of  Mines,  I am 
indebted  for  a careful  classification  of  the  various 
specimens  of  rocks  and  minerals  collected  in  the 
country.  Lastly,  the  reader  will  share  in  my  grati- 
tude to  Mr.  Zwecker,  whose  able  pencil  has  created, 
out  of  rough  outlines  sketched  in  a pocketbook,  the 
vivid  and  faithful  illustrations  which  bring  before  his 
eyes  the  scenery  and  incidents  of  life  in  Patagonia. 

G.  C.  M. 


September  1,  1871. 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER  I. 

FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 

PAGE 

Journey  Planned — Preparations  — Passage  from  Stanley — The 
Straits — First  Footsteps  in  Patagonia — The  Narrows — Punta 
Arenas  — Commandante  Viel  — The  Colony — The  Town — 
Chilotes  and  Convicts— Resources — Visit  to  the  Coal  Bed — 
Lieut.  Gallegos — The  Start — Rio  Chaunco — The  Patagonian 
Pampas — Our  Party — Cabecera  del  Mar — Oazy  Harbour — A 
Useless  Chase — A Fireless  Night — Volcanic  Hills — Pampa 
Yams — Rio  Gallegos — First  Indians — Sam  Slick — Rio  Cuheyli 
— Meeting  with  Tehuelches — Caravan  of  Women — ‘Anglish’ 
Politeness — Desert — Santa  Cruz  at  last 1 


CHAPTER  IL 

SANTA  CRUZ. 

Introduction  to  Chiefs — Orkeke — Chilian  Deserters — The  Settle- 
ment— Island  of  Pabon — Natural  Advantages — The  Mission 
Station — Mr.  Clarke — Our  Circle  at  Pabon — Expedition  to 
Lake  Viedma — Winter  Occupations — Work  and  Play — Casi- 
miro’s  Adventures — His  Character — A Winter  Hunting  Ex- 
cursion— A Pampa  Snow-storm — The  Santa  Cruz  Valley — Up 
the  River — The  Northern  Hills — Pumas — Devil’s  Eyes — Hunt- 
ing on  Foot — Intense  Cold — Return  of  the  Deserters — 
Visit  to  the  Indian  Camp — First  Night  in  a Toldo — Towing  a 
Horse — Adieu  to  Santa  Cruz 35 


CONTENTS. 


viii 


CHAPTER  III. 

THE  RIO  CHICO. 

PAGE 

Breaking  up  of  the  Camp — An  Idle  Day — A Rash  Start — A 
Dilemma — Alone  on  the  Pampa — Reunion — The  Kau  or  Toldo 
— The  Domestic  Interior — The  Indian  Tribes — Three  Races — 
Order  of  the  March — The  Hunt — Indian  Game  Law — Tehu- 
elche  Cookery — Basaltic  Hills — An  Indian  Festival — My  First 
Tehuelche  Ball — Mrs.  Orkeke’s  Spill — Fording  Rio  Chico — 

A Battle — Death  of  Cuastro — Dangerous  Times — Chilian 
Conspiracy — Obsidian  Plain  and  Pass — First  Ostrich  Eggs — 
Amakaken — Lifting  the  Boulder — The  Devil’s  Country — 
God’s  Hill — Condors  and  Dinner — Sunrise  on  the  Cordillera 
— The  Plague  Herald — Gelgel  Aik — Escape  from  Matrimony 
— Tele — Eyes  of  the  Desert — Preparations  for  War — Another 
Fight — Water  Tigers — Indian  Bravoes — Iron  Ores — Ship  Rock 
— Perch  Fishing — Appley-kaik — Casimiro’s  Escape — Arrival  at 
Henno  ...........  65 


CHAPTER  IV. 

HENNOKAIK  TO  TECKEL. 

Ceremonial  of  Welcome — Hinchel’s  Indians— Tehuelches  and  Arau- 
canos — Jaekechan  and  the  Chupat  Tribe— My  Examination — 
Encampment  at  Henno — Peaceful  Occupations — The  Oldest 
Inhabitant — Chiriq — The  Hidden  Cities — Modern  Legends — 
Mysteries  of  the  Cordillera — Los  Cesares — La  Ciudad  Encan- 
tada — Its  Whereabouts — The  Indian  Cesares — The  Guanaco 
— The  Patagonian  Ostrich — Neighbourhood  of  Chiriq— Horse- 
racing— Indian  Horses — Indian  Dogs — Dog  and  Lover — Plait- 
ing Sinews — Windy  Hill — Surrounded  by  Fire — Young  Gua- 
naco— Arrival  of  Grog— News  from  Santa  Cruz — Gisk — Roman- 
tic Scenery— A Pleasant  Neighbourhood — Fairy  Glen — Break- 
ing a Horse — Female  Curiosity — The  Wild  Cattle  Country — 

The  Forests  of  the  Cordillera — The  Watershed — Among  the 
Mountains — Wild  Flowers — A Bull  Fight — The  Bull  Victorious 
— No  Christmas  Beef — Teckel — Change  of  Quarters  . . 113 


CONTENTS. 


IX 


CHAPTER  V. 

MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OP  THE  TEHUELCHE3. 

PAGE 

Patagonian  Giants — A Long  Walk— Strength  and  Good  Humour — 
Heads  of  Hair — Tehuelche  Coquettes — Dress  of  Men  and  Women 
— Ornaments  and  Cosmetics — Toilette  and  Bath — Arms  and 
Implements — Ancient  Bolas  and  Arrows — Saddles  and  Bridles— 
Silversmiths — Manufacture  of  Mantles — Women’s  Work — Diet 
and  Cookery — Smoking — Card  Playing — Game  of  Ball — Cere- 
monies at  Birth — Childhood — Marriage — Funeral  Rites — Reli- 
gion— Demons  and  Doctors — Witchcraft  and  Omens — Medical 
Skill — Population  and  Politics — Etiquette — Tehuelche  Charac- 
ter— Natural  Affection — Advice  to  Travellers  . . . .165 


CHAPTER  VI. 

TEC  K EL  TO  GEYLUH. 

Casimiro’s  Household — Carge-kaik — Quintuhual’s  Son — Woolkein 
— Partridges — Meeting  with  the  Araucanians — The  Cacique 
Quintuhual — Esgel-kaik — Araucanian  Belles — Communication 
with  Chupat  Colony — Diplaik — Calficura’s  Declaration  of  War 
— Tehuelches  learn  Fishing — My  Indian  Relatives — Woodland 
Rambles — An  Indian  Paradise. — The  Upper  Chupat — Cushamou 
— Losing  Horses — Official  Functions — Message  from  Las 
Manzanas  — Blessing  the  Liquor  — Casimiro  Intoxicated  — 
Foyel’s  Encampment  — Great  Parlemento  — Foyel’s  Ideas  — 
Gatchen-kaik — Arrival  at  Geylum 199 


CHAPTER  VII. 

LAS  MANZANAS. 

Catching  a Thief — Miss  Foyel — St..rt  for  Las  Manzanas — First  View 
of  the  Apple  Groves — Omens  of  War — Inacayal’s  Tolderia — 
Crossing  the  Rio  Limay — Mr.  Cox’s  Shipwreck — Lenketrou’s 
Raid — A Night  of  Alarm— Bravery  of  my  Cousins — The  Great 
Cheoeque — A Mounted  Parlemento — Apples  and  Pinones — 


X 


CONTENTS. 


PAGE 

Graviel’s  Madness — Las  Manzanas — Cheoeque’s  Palace — The 
Revels — Feuds  between  the  Chiefs — Picunches  and  the  Passes 
to  Valdivia — Trading  and  Politics — Resolutions  of  Peace — A 
Grand  Banquet — Power  of  Cheoeque — Araucanian  Customs — 
Farewell  Presents— Invitation  to  Return — Orkeke’s  Generosity 
— Return  to  Geylum — Outbreak  of  an  Epidemic — My  Pretty 
Page — Departure  from  Geylum 230 

CHAPTER  VIII. 

GEYLUM  TO  PATAGONES. 

A Sick  Camp — Oerroe  Volcanic  Hill — Crime’s  Deathbed — Graviel’s 
Promotion — The  Burning  Ground — Hot  Springs — Fighting  the 
Gualichu — A Real  Fight — A Soda  Lake — Encampment  at 
Telck — The  Doctor  comes  to  Grief — An  Obliging  Ostrich — 
Appointed  Chasqui — Miseries  of  Pampa  Life — A Bad  Time — 

The  Plains  of  Margensho — Casimiro’s  Distrust — Doctor  and 
Sick  Child — Duties  of  a Messenger — Departure  of  the  Chasquis 
— Travelling  Express — The  Paved  Pampas — An  Ideal  Bandit — - 
Letter  from  the  Chupat  Colony — -Trinita— Teneforo’s  Pampas 
— Champayo’s  Generosity — A Morning  Drink — Departure  from 
Trinita — Valchita — The  Pigs’  Road — Wild  Horses — The  Tra- 
vesia — Limit  of  the  Patagonian  Fauna  and  Flora — First  View 
of  the  Rio  Negro — Sauce  Blanco — The  Guardia — San  Xaviel — 
Approach  to  Patagones — Senor  Murga — Welsh  Hospitality — 
Among  Friends  at  last 261 


CHAPTER  IX. 

THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 

Patagones,  or  Carmen  Old  Town — The  Fort  and  Buildings — The 
Southern  Town — The  English  Mission — Elements  of  the 
Population — The  Negroes — The  Convicts — Lawless  State  of 
Society — The  Cemetery — Early  History  of  the  Colony — A Suc- 
cessful Stratagem — Villarino’s  Ascent  of  the  River — Expedition 
of  Rosas — The  Island  of  Choelechel — La  Guardia  Chica — 
Estaneia  of  Messrs.  Kincaid — Ancient  Indian  Graves — Flint 


CONTENTS. 


xi 


PAGE 

Weapons — The  Shepherd  and  Pumas — Estancia  San  Andre— 

The  Indians  and  the  Colonists  — Calficura’s  Raid  — Indian 
Method  of  Attack — The  Tame  Indians — View  of  the  \ alley — 
Trade  of  Patagones — Fertility  of  the  Soil — Rio  Negro  Wine — 

The  Sportsman — Advice  to  Emigrants — Interview  with  Col. 
Murga — The  Government  Grants  to  Chiefs — Casimiro  again — 

The  Tehuelches  in  Town  — Farewell  — The  Welsh  Utopia  — 
Social  Life  at  Patagones— The  Steamer  at  last — Aground — The 
Pilot — Pat  Sweeny — Adieu  to  Patagonia 304 


APPENDIX. 

A.  — A partial  Vocabulary  of  the  Tsoneca  Language  as  spoken  by 

the  Northern  Tehuelches . 373 

B.  — Testimony  of  successive  Voyagers  to  the  Stature  of  the  Pata- 

gonians   341 


LIST  OF  ILLUSTRATIONS 


HUNTING  GUANACO  AND  OSTRICH,  VALLEY  OF  RIO  CHICO 

MAP  OF  PATAGONIA 

STATION  ON  PABON  ISLAND,  SANTA  CRUZ 

WAKI  KILLING  A PUMA 

START  FROM  THE  CAMP  AT  MOWAISH,  OR  WINDOW  HILL 

THE  PRETTY  HOUSE  AND  DANCE 

CEREMONY  OF  WELCOME  (TEHUELCHES  AND  ARAUCANIANS) 
A WILD  BULL  IN  THE  CORDILLERA  . 

SKETCH  MAP  FROM  RIO  SENGEL  TO  TECKEL  . 
TEHUELCHE  ARMS  AND  IMPLEMENTS  . 

CROSSING  THE  RIO  LIMAY 


Frontispiece 
at  the  end 


to  face  p.  39 


77 

79 

81 

115 

159 

164 

176 

236 


INTEODU  CTION. 


Three  hundred  and  fifty  years  ago  the  great  navigator 
Magellan  anchored  in  a port  on  the  eastern  coast  of  an 
unknown  shore,  part  of  the  seaboard  of  the  vast  continent  of 
South  America,  to  which  he  gave  the  name  of  St.  Julian. 
Starting  from  this  point,  the  pilot  Serrano  explored  the 
coast  to  the  southward,  and  discovered  a river  which  he 
named  Santa  Cruz.  His  ship  was  wrecked  near  the  mouth, 
and  left  her  timbers  on  the  rocks,  the  first  of  the  long  list  of 
vessels  lost  on  that  ironbound  coast,  which,  from  the  mouth 
of  the  Rio  Negro  to  the  Straits,  offers  hut  one  or  two  safe 
harbours,  while  submerged  reefs,  fierce  gales,  strong  tides, 
currents,  and  overfalls  combine  to  render  it  nearly  the  most 
perilous  known  to  navigators. 

Magellan  remained  at  Port  St.  Julian  and  Santa  Cruz  from 
April  till  October  of  1520,  when  he  sailed  southward,  and 
discovered  the  Straits  which  bear  his  name.  Two  months 
after  his  arrival  at  Port  St.  Julian  a man  of  gigantic  stature 
appeared  on  the  beach,  ‘ larger  and  taller  than  the  stoutest 
man  of  Castile.’  Eighteen  natives  afterwards  arrived  dressed 
in  cloaks  of  skins  and  shoes  of  guanaco  hide,  which  made  huge 
footmarks,  whence  they  were  called  Patagones,  or  ‘ large 
feet,’  by  the  Spaniards ; and  thus  originated  in  a nickname 


XIV 


INTRODUCTION. 


the  name  of  the  country,  Patagonia.  These  men  used  bows 
and  arrows,  and  had  with  them  four  young  guanacoes,  with 
which  they  decoyed  the  wild  ones  within  shot.  Two  young 
men  were  treacherously  seized  and  carried  off,  howling  and 
calling  on  their  god  Setebos.  The  natives  naturally  resented 
this  return  for  their  ready  friendliness,  and,  attacking  a 
party  sent  after  them,  killed  one  Spaniard  with  their  arrows. 
Enough,  however,  was  seen  of  them  to  furnish  Pigafetta 
with  some  details.  1 Their  tents  were  light  movable  frames, 
covered  with  skins ; their  faces  were  painted  ; they  were 
very  swift  of  foot,  had  tools  of  sharp-edged  flints,  and  ate 
their  meat  nearly  raw.’ 

That  the  first  knowledge  of  Patagonia  was  diffused  in  Eng- 
land by  Pigafetta’s  narrative  is  suggested  by  Caliban’s  lines  in 
the  ‘ Tempest  ’:  ‘ He  could  command  my  dam’s  god  Setebos 
but  it  was  not  till  1578  that  the  newly- discovered  country 
was  visited  by  Englishmen. 

Sir  Francis  Drake  in  that  year  anchored  in  Seal  Bay — 
probably  a little  to  the  south  of  Port  Desire — and  saw  several 
Indians.  His  chaplain  narrates  their  method  of  stalking 
the  ostriches : ‘ They  have  a plume  of  ostrich  feathers  on  a 
long  staff,  large  enough  to  hide  a man  behind,  and  with  this 
they  stalk  the  ostriches.’  He  further  says : ‘ They  would 
have  none  of  our  company  until  such  time  as  they  were 
warranted  by  their  god  “ Settaboth.”  They  never  cut  their 
hair,  which  they  make  a storehouse  for  all  the  things  they 
carry  about — a quiver  for  arrows,  a sheath  for  knives,  a case 
for  toothpicks,  a box  for  fire-sticks,  and  what  not ; they  are 
fond  of  dancing  with  rattles  round  their  waists  ; they  have 
clean,  comely,  and  strong  bodies,  are  swift  of  foot,  very 
active,  a goodly  and  lively  people.  Magellan  was  not  alto- 


I 


INTRODUCTION. 


XV 


getker  wrong  in  naming  them  giants,  yet  they  are  not  taller 
than  some  Englishmen.’  Drake  next  visited  Port  St. 
Julian  ; and,  curiously  enough,  as  Magellan  had  in  this  place 
put  to  death  two  and  marooned  a third  of  his  captains  who 
mutinied,  so  this  harbour  was  the  scene  of  the  execution  of 
Mr.  Doughty,  who  chose  rather  to  be  beheaded  than  to  be 
put  on  shore.  The  ensuing  year  Sarmiento  was  despatched 
from  Callao  to  examine  the  Straits  in  search  of  the  daring 
Englishman.  He  saw  natives  who  chased  their  game  on 
horseback,  and  brought  it  down  with  bolas.  But  fifty  years 
had  elapsed  since  horses  had  been  imported  by  the  Spaniards 
of  the  Rio  de  la  Plata,  and  already  the  Indians  in  the  far 
south  had  become  horsemen,  and  would  seem  to  have 
exchanged  their  bows  and  arrows  for  the  bolas. 

In  1581  Sarmiento  was  sent  from  Spain  with  2,500  men 
in  twenty-three  ships,  to  found  new  colonies  in  the  Straits, 
and  established  a settlement,  leaving  400  men  and  thirty 
women  fuimished  with  eight  months’  provisions.  On  his 
way  home  his  ship  was  captured  by  the  English,  and  the 
unhappy  colonists  were  altogether  forgotten  and  neglected 
by  then'  Government. 

Five  years  after,  Thomas  Cavendish  anchored  in  a bay  to 
the  south  of  St.  Julian,  called  by  him  Port  Desire,  which 
perpetuates  the  name  of  his  little  craft  of  120  tons.  Here 
the  natives  attacked  his  men  with  bows  and  arrows.  Visiting 
the  Straits,  he  arrived  at  the  settlement,  and  found  only 
twelve  men  and  three  women  surviving,  the  rest  having 
perished  of  slow  starvation  and  disease  ; and  the  name  of 
the  place,  Port  Famine,  conferred  by  him,  still  recalls  the 
miserable  fate  of  these  ill-fated  colonists. 

On  his  next  voyage,  in  1591,  Cavendish  died  ; but  John 


XVI 


INTRODUCTION. 


Davis  twice  visited  Port  Desire,  and  explored  the  river  for 
twenty  miles.  During  his  stay  some  1,000  natives  visited 
the  strangers,  and  Knyvet  describes  them  as  being  fifteen  or 
sixteen  span  high. 

Passing  over  the  visits  of  Van  Noort  and  Schouten,  in  the 
reign  of  Charles  the  Second,  Sir  John  Narborough  took 
possession  of  the  country  near  Port  Desire  in  the  name  of  the 
King.  But  few  natives  were  seen,  and  the  mate,  Mr.  Wood, 
boastingly  declared  that  he  himself  was  taller  than  any  of 
them. 

In  the  eighteenth  century  Byron  and  Wallis  successively 
visited  the  shores  of  Patagonia,  and  made  friends  with  the 
natives,  whose  height  was  found  to  be  from  five  feet  ten 
inches  to  six  feet,  while  some  were  nearly  seven  feet  high. 

In  1774,  the  Jesuit  Father  Falkner  published  his  work  on 
Patagonia,  containing  all  the  information  procured  by  him- 
self and  the  other  J esuit  missionaries  who  had  attempted  to 
obtain  a footing  on  the  western  and  northern  boundaries. 
His  account  of  the  Tehuelches,  or  Tsoneca  Indians,  was 
evidently  derived  from  personal  communication  with  them, 
although  his  knowledge  of  the  topography  of  then-  country 
seems  to  have  been  procured  from  the  reports  of  others.  By 
this  work,  which  produced  a great  sensation,  the  jealous 
fears  of  the  Spanish  Government  were  aroused,  and  they 
hastened  to  despatch  an  expedition  to  form  settlements  on 
the  coast  of  Patagonia. 

Of  the  brothers  Yiedma,  who  were  sent  in  command, 
Francisco  founded  Carmen  at  the  mouth  of  the  Kio  Negro  ; 
and  Antonio,  after  first  fixing  on  Port  Desire,  determined 
finally  on  Port  St.  Julian  as  the  site  of  another  colony.  He 
thence  undertook  the  first  exploration  of  the  interior  in 


INTRODUCTION. 


XVll 


search  of  timber  for  building,  in  the  course  of  which  he 
reached  the  great  lake  at  the  foot  of  the  Cordillera,  from 
which  flowed  the  Rio  Santa  Cruz.  Both  on  the  coast  and  in 
the  interior  he  received  much  friendly  aid  from  the  Indians, 
of  whom  he  formed  a most  favourable  opinion. 

Under  his  brother’s  auspices  the  Rio  Negro  was  ascended 
as  far  as  the  mountains  of  Villarino,  to  whose  expedition 
reference  will  be  made  in  the  proper  place. 

No  further  knowledge  was  gained  of  the  interior  of  Pata- 
gonia until  the  survey  of  the  Beagle,  so  ably  performed  and 
so  admirably  described  by  Fitzroy  and  Darwin ; during 
which  the  ascent  of  the  Santa  Cruz  River  for  200  miles 
enabled  the  latter  to  observe  the  remarkable  formations 
which  he  has  so  aptly  described  in  his  work  on  the  Geology 
of  South  America. 

This  brief  but  perhaps  tedious  account  has  been  given  to 
show  that  although  the  coasts  of  Patagonia  had  been  ex- 
plored and  surveyed,  yet  the  interior  of  the  country,  though 
pierced  by  the  expeditions  of  Yiedma  and  Fitzroy,  remained 
up  to  a late  date  still  almost  unknown.  Its  inhabitants,  the 
Tehuelches,  had  been  often  communicated  with,  their  stature 
noted,  and  then-  friendly  disposition  commended ; but  then* 
real  manners  of  life  as  they  wandered  through  the  country, 
and  their  relations  with,  or  difference  from,  the  Araucanian 
and  Pampa  Indians,  had  remained  almost  as  much  a mystery 
as  they  were  in  the  last  century. 

During  the  last  thirty  years  the  Governments  of  Chili  and 
of  Buenos  Ayres  have  shown  themselves  inclined  to  claim 
the  possession  of  the  coast,  the  former  trying  to  advance 
from  the  Straits,  and  the  latter  from  Patagones  ; and  the 
natives  have  acknowledged  the  influence  of  either  Govern- 

b 


xviii  INTRODUCTION. 

ment  as  they  happened  to  be  in  the  northen  or  southern 
parts  respectively.  Our  missionaries  also  have  not  left  the 
Patagonians  without  some  efforts  to  instruct  and  evangelise 
them ; and  although  these  efforts  have  been  necessarily 
limited  to  the  coast,  yet  the  fruits  of  Mr.  Schmid’s  sojourn 
with  the  Tehuelches  remain  both  in  their  friendly  feelings 
and  in  the  lasting  record  of  the  vocabulary  of  the  Tsoneca 
language  published  by  him.  And  the  intercourse  of  these 
Indians  with  Argentines  and  Chilians,  and  more  especially 
with  English  officers,  sealers,  and  missionaries  successively, 
all  of  whom  have  testified  favourably  to  their  character,  has 
tended  to  make  them  more  open  to  access,  and  to  give  them 
a knowledge  of  foreigners ; so  that  in  this  respect  I can  feel 
that  to  all  those  who  have  been  mentioned  as  having  thus 
preceded  me,  this  brief  record  is  due  from  a traveller  who 
has  experienced  the  friendly  feelings  of  the  natives  towards 
strangers,  and  especially  Englishmen. 

While  engaged  in  preparing  the  ensuing  pages  for  the 
press,  I have  had  an  opportunity  of  perusing  the  work  of  M. 
Guinnard,  first  published  in  French,  and  recently  given  to 
the  English  public  in  a spirited  translation,  entitled  Three 
Years’  Slavery  among  the  Patagonians.’  The  name  necessarily 
attracted  me,  but  to  my  great  surprise  careful  perusal  led 
to  the  distinct  conviction  that  the  author’s  personal  experi- 
ences were  altogether  confined  to  the  Pampas  Indians  north 
of  the  Rio  Negro.  From  his  own  statements  and  omissions 
it  is  quite  evident  that  he  was  not  carried  by  any  of  his  suc- 
cessive masters  across  this  river,  which  he  clearly  and  accu- 
rately defines  to  be  (page  40)  the  northern  boundary  of  Pata- 
gonia. The  name  of  Patagonians  is,  therefore,  a complete 
misnomer  ; and  the  curious  account  (pp.  72,  73)  of  the 


INTRODUCTION. 


XIX 


‘ Tcheouelches,’  or  Foot  Nomads,  clothed  in  seal  skins,  and 
accustomed  to  live  on  fish,  and  literally  destitute  of  horses,  is 
applicable  to  no  tribe  whatever  east  of  the  Cordillera,  the 
Fuegians  being  the  only  race  presenting  any  of  the  character- 
istic habits  attributed  to  this  so-called  Patagonian  tribe. 

I hope  I may  not  be  supposed  to  be  desirous  of  impeach- 
ing the  accuracy  of  M.  Guinnard’s  account  of  the  hardships 
endured  in  his  captivity,  or  the  customs  of  the  Indians  into 
whose  hands  he  fell,  much  of  which  I can  corroborate  ; but 
it  is  to  be  regretted  that  he  was  induced,  probably  by  others, 
to  describe  under  the  name  of  Patagonians  the  Pampas 
Indians,  who,  by  country,  race,  language,  and  character  are 
marked  as  being  altogether  distinct  from  the  Tehuelclies  of 
Patagonia. 


AT  HOME 


WITH 

THE  PATAGONIANS. 


CHAPTER  I. 

FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 

Journey  Planned — Preparations — Passage  from  Stanley — The  Straits — 
First  Footsteps  in  Patagonia — The  Narrows — Punta  Arenas — Com- 
mandante  Viel — The  Colony — The  Town — Chilotes  and  Convicts — 
Resources — Visit  to  the  Coal  Bed — Lieut.  Gallegos — The  Start — Rio 
Chaunco— The  Patagonian  Pampas — Our  Party — Cabecera  del  Mar 
— Oazy  Harbour — A Useless  Chase — A Fireless  Night — Volcanic  Hills 
— Pampa  Yams — Rio  Gallegos — First  Indians — Sam  Slick — Rio 
Cuheyli — Meeting  with  Tehuelches — Caravan  of  Women — ‘Angliah’ 
Politeness — Desert — Santa  Cruz  at  last. 

IN  April,  1869,  chance  took  me  to  our  remote  colony  of 
the  Falkland  Islands,  with  the  purpose  of  taking  thence 
a passage  to  Buenos  Ayres  to  arrange  some  business  matters. 
During  my  stay  in  the  settlement,  the  coast  of  Patagonia, 
in  the  survey  of  which  H.M.S.  Nassau  was  then  engaged, 
formed  a frequent  topic  of  conversation.  I had  formerly, 
when  stationed  on  the  south-east  coast  of  America,  read 
with  delight  Mr.  Darwin’s  work  on  South  America,  as  well 
as  Fitzroy’s  admirable  Narrative  of  the  Voyage  of  the  Beagle, 
and  had  ever  since  entertained  a strong  desire  to  penetrate 
if  possible  the  little-known  interior  of  the  country.  Now, 

1 


2 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


at  length,  a favourable  opportunity  seemed  to  have  arrived 
for  carrying  out  the  cherished  scheme  of  traversing  the 
country  from  Punta  Arena  to  the  Rio  Negro,  Valdivia,  or 
even  to  Buenos  Ayres.  The  accounts  given  me  of  the 
Tehuelche  character  and  of  the  glorious  excitement  of  the 
chase  after  the  guanaco,  graphically  described  by  a seaman, 
Sam  Bonner,  who  had  been  much  on  the  coast  and  had 
resided  at  the  Santa  Cruz  station,  made  me  more  than  ever 
anxious  to  prosecute  this  plan ; and,  having  a tolerable 
acquaintance  with  Spanish,  which  language  many  of  the 
Indians  know  well,  it  seemed  to  me  possible  to  safely  traverse 
the  country  in  company  with  some  one  or  other  of  their 
wandering  parties.  Accordingly  I .bestirred  myself  to  obtain 
information  as  to  the  best  way  of  getting  such  an  introduc- 
tion to  the  Indians  as  would  probably  secure  their  consent ; 
to  which  end  most  material  assistance  was  afforded  by  Mr. 
Dean,  of  Stanley,  who  kindly  provided  me  with  letters  of 
introduction  to  Captain  Luiz  Piedra  Buena,  an  intelligent 
Argentine  well  known  in  Stanley,  the  owner  of  a schooner, 
in  which  he  worked  the  seal  fisheries  on  the  coast,  and  also 
of  a trading  station  at  the  Middle  Island,  on  the  Santa  Cruz 
river.  Mr.  Dean  was  of  opinion  that  I should  be  almost 
certain  to  meet  with  Don  Luiz  in  the  Straits  of  Magellan, 
and  that  he  would  willingly  exert  his  influence  with  the 
Indians  to  enable  me  to  carry  out  my  plan  of  travel.  I was 
furthermore  provided  with  letters  of  credit  to  the  firm  of 
Messrs.  Aguirre  and  Murga,  at  Patagones,  or,  as  it  is  most 
commonly  called  at  Stanley,  the  Rio  Negro. 

Thus  armed  with  credentials,  and  equipped  with  a guanaco 
skin  mantle,  lazo  and  bolas,  I availed  myself  of  the  offer  of  a 
passage  to  the  Straits  made  by  an  old  friend  who  was  bound 
to  the  westward  coast. 

In  the  first  week  of  April  we  sailed  from  Stanley,  and, 
after  a boisterous  passage  of  eleven  days,  anchored  in  Posses- 
sion Bay,  just  within  the  entrance  of  the  Straits,  to  wait  for 
the  turn  of  the  tide,  as  the  extreme  velocity  with  which  the 


FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


3 


tides  ebb  and  flow  through  these  channels  renders  it  im- 
possible for  any  vessel  not  possessed  of  great  steam-power 
to  proceed  except  the  tide  is  favourable.  Our  first  view 
of  the  Straits  did  not  impress  me  favourably.  On  either 
hand  the  shores  looked  bleak  and  barren,  though  far  away 
to  the  south  and  west  the  mountains  of  Tierra  del  Fuego 
could  be  distinctly  seen.  As  we  anchored  early  in  the  after- 
noon, a descent  on  the  coast  of  Patagonia  was  proposed, 
and  a party  speedily  volunteered — well  provided  with  guns 
and  other  arms,  for  the  purposes  of  sport  and  self-defence 
in  case  of  necessity — and  were  soon  in  the  boat.  As  the 
tide  was  out,  the  shoal  water  did  not  permit  us  to  reach  the 
shore,  so  we  had  to  wade  some  two  or  three  hundred  yards 
over  beds  of  sharp-edged  mussels,  and,  after  a climb  up  the 
steep  cliff,  found  ourselves  on  the  verge  of  a barren  plain 
which  seemed  perfectly  destitute  of  life. 

After  a tramp  of  some  distance  we  came  to  the  edge  of  a 
gully  running  down  to  the  coast,  where  finding  the  torn  car- 
case of  a guanaco,  we  stopped  to  examine  what  was  to  most 
of  us  an  unknown  animal  ; and  our  speculations  as  to  the 
curious  hybrid  form  of  the  odd-looking  ‘ camel-sheep’  were 
put  an  end  to  by  the  discovery  close  by  of  the  fresh  foot- 
prints of  a puma.  These  were  eagerly  tracked,  in  the  hopes 
of  a little  entertainment ; but  after  some  tedious  searching 
we  abandoned  the  pursuit,  and  again  resuming  our  excur- 
sion, tramped  along  through  high,  coarse  grass,  and  sparsely 
scattered  thorny  bushes  ; some  of  the  sportsmen  varying 
the  monotony  by  an  occasional  shot  at  a snipe.  The  day 
was  very  genial,  the  warmth  of  the  bright  sunshine  was 
tempered  by  a wind  just  cool  enough  to  make  a walk 
pleasant,  and  the  Patagonian  climate  was  pronounced  by  all 
hands  to  be  agreeable.  Whilst  we  were  beating  a rough 
bit  of  ground,  to  our  utter  amazement  and  delight  our 
friend  the  puma  jumped  out  of  a bush ; but  the  first  surprise 
was  so  great,  that  the  opportunity  of  giving  him  a long  shot 
was  lost.  Away  we  all  started  in  chase,  hoping  to  be  able 


4 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PA  T AGON  I A NS. 


to  keep  him  in  sight  from  a small  adjacent  eminence  ; and 
after  a good  breather  two  of  the  party  succeeded  in  viewing 
him  to  somewhere  near  the  edge  of  the  cliffs,  mainly  guided 
by  a retriever  dog,  which  seemed  as  anxious  as  anybody  to 
see  what  the  catamount  hide  was  made  of.  On  arriving  at 
the  cliff,  a seaman  observed  his  tracks  on  the  soft  clay  of  the 
shelving  brow,  and  soon  proclaimed  his  discovery  of  the 
puma  in  a hole  or  small  cave  just  below,  by  the  exclamation 
of  ‘ There  he  is ! ’ at  the  same  time  thrusting  the  stick  he 
had  been  beating  with  nearly  into  the  mouth  of  the  ‘ Hon,’ 
which  had  set  our  dog,  and  appeared  about  to  spring  on  him. 
Two  shots  were  fired  in  quick  succession,  but  apparently 
without  effect,  as  he  made  good  his  retreat,  affording  us  a 
fine  view  as  he  went  off,  springing  in  great  bounds,  along 
the  beach.  Pursuit  was  of  course  organised,  but  night  being 
near  failed  to  afford  us  an  opportunity  of  a closer  study  of 
this  specimen  of  the  feline  race ; and  we  accordingly  started 
again  for  the  ship,  after  firing  a shot  or  two  into  the  numer- 
ous flocks  of  oyster-catchers  and  shags  which  were  domiciled 
on  the  rocks  and  about  the  cliffs.  The  number  of  these  and 
other  sea-birds  was  incalculable  ; the  numerous  beds  of 
mussels  furnishing  them  with  constant  food. 

Next  morning  we  were  under  weigh  with  the  flood-tide, 
and  rapidly  ran  through  the  narrows  at  a speed  of  eighteen 
miles  an  hour.  The  scenery  on  the  northern  side  of  the 
Straits  offered  little  variety  until  we  sighted  the  Barrancas 
of  San  Gregorio,  a range  of  somewhat  picturesque  hills, 
rising  near  the  north  shore  of  the  bay  of  the  same  name,  and 
i-unning  along  for  some  miles  in  an  easterly  direction.  On 
the  southern  or  Fuegian  side  of  the  Straits  the  land  was  low 
for  some  distance  from  the  coast,  and  resembled  the  northern 
shore,  but  high  mountains  were  visible  in  the  background. 
After  passing  the  second  narrows,  an  horn’  or  two’s  run  with 
the  flood-tide  and  a good  head  of  steam  brought  us  opposite 
to  the  ‘ Island  of  San  Isabel,’  or  Elizabeth  Island ; after 
passing  which,  the  snow  clad  peaks  of  Mount  Sarmiento,  in 


FROM  TEE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRl'Z. 


5 


the  southern  part  of  Tierra  clel  Fuego,  came  into  sight, 
appearing  to  rise  out  of  the  water,  ninety  miles  distant,  if 
not  more.  Steaming  along  the  coast  through  numerous  beds 
of  the  characteristic  kelp  seaweed,  which  in  the  most  forcible 
way  attracted  our  attention,  by  fouling  the  screw,  and  hold- 
ing the  ship  as  if  anchored  for  about  an  hour,  we  passed 
Cape  Negro,  and  opened  completely  different  scenery.  In- 
stead of  undulating  plains,  hills  thickly  wooded  were  seen  ; 
at  the  foot  of  one  of  which,  on  a low  piece  of  flat  ground, 
numerous  horsemen,  dressed  in  gay-coloured  ponchos,  were 
visible,  careering  about. 

It  was  the  afternoon  of  Sunday,  which  in  all  Spanish 
South  American  countries  is  a gala  day,  more  or  less  appro- 
priated to  horse-racing.  However,  the  sight  of  a steamer 
appeared  to  cause  a diversion,  and,  in  fact,  a general  race 
to'  the  settlement  ensued,  all  being  apparently  anxious 
for  anything  new  or  strange.  The  anchor  was  soon 
dropped,  near  an  American  schooner  lying  off  the  Sandy 
Point,  from  which  the  Chilian  settlement  of  Punta  Arenas 
derives  its  name. 

There  was  no  sign  of  the  Nassau,  then  engaged  in  the 
survey  of  the  Straits,  which  we  had  hoped  to  find  in  this 
anchorage  ; but  from  the  Chilian  officer,  who  speedily  boarded 
us,  we  learned  that  she  had  sailed  to  the  westward  a day  or 
two  before  our  arrival,  and  was  expected  to  return  imme- 
diately. The  results  of  the  careful  observations  made  by 
Mr.  Cunningham,  of  the  scenery  and  natural  history  of  the 
Straits,  have  appeared  while  these  pages  were  in  preparation 
for  the  press  ; and  it  affords  me  pleasure  to  refer  such  as 
desire  more  scientific  accounts  of  the  botany  and  zoology,  at 
least  of  Southern  Patagonia,  than  it  was  in  my  power  to 
obtain,  to  his  work. 

My  own  object  in  visiting  Punta  Arenas  was  to  proceed 
thence  to  Santa  Cruz  with  the  Indians,  or  in  whatever  way 
might  prove  feasible  ; but,  in  truth,  it  was  by  no  means  clear 
to  my  mind  how  it  was  to  be  accomplished  ; it  was,  therefore, 


6 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


with  great  relief  that  I learned  from  the  Chilian  lieutenant 
that  a small  expedition  was  about  to  be  despatched  by  the 
governor  to  Santa  Cruz  in  pursuit  of  some  runaways  from 
among  the  deserters  who  were  serving  their  term  of  punish- 
ment in  the  colony.  He  suggested  that  the  Commandante 
would,  doubtless,  give  permission  to  accompany  this  party  ; 
and,  without  delay,  I accompanied  him  on  shore,  and  was 
introduced  to  Commandante  Sehor  Viel. 

Nothing  could  exceed  the  kindness  and  courtesy  with 
which  the  Commandante  entered  into  my  plans  ; he  at  once 
not  only  gave  me  permission  to  accompany  the  party,  but, 
unasked,  offered  me  the  use  of  a horse,  and  told  me  not  to 
trouble  myself  about  the  commissariat  for  the  road.  It  was 
possible,  however,  that  the  deserters  might  be  overtaken  in 
the  Pampas,  in  which  case  the  party  would  return  without 
proceeding  as  far  as  Santa  Cruz  ; he  therefore  advised  me 
to  secure  the  services  of  some  one  acquainted  with  the  route, 
who  could  act  as  guide  in  the  event  of  having  to  proceed 
without  the  rest  of  our  companions. 

I was  afterwards  introduced  to  Sehora  Yiel,  a fan-  Limena 
possessing  all  the  proverbial  charms  of  the  ladies  of  Lima, 
and  who  bemoaned  bitterly  the  isolation  and  ennui  of  life  at 
Punta  Arenas ; she  had  literally  no  equals  of  her  own  sex, 
and  scarcely  any  of  the  other  to  speak  to.  Sehor  Viel  had 
formerly  commanded  a Chilian  ironclad,  instead  of  which  he 
had  accepted  the  government  of  this  distant  colony  ; his 
zeal  and  energy  in  discharging  the  duties  of  his  office  were 
unceasing,  and  his  naval  habits  asserted  themselves  in  the 
strictness  of  discipline  maintained,  which  was  absolutely 
necessary  to  keep  in  order  the  motley  population.  But  as  a 
residence,  viewed  from  a social  point  of  view,  Punta  Arenas 
must  have  been  unimaginably  dull.  The  Commandante 
kindly  pressed  me  to  make  his  house  my  home,  promising 
quarters  for  the  night — which  his  own  limited  accommoda- 
tion could  not  supply — in  an  adjacent  house.  So  after  two 
days,  agreeably  spent  in  the  interchange  of  courtesies  and 


FROM  TEE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ.  7 

visits,  I bade  adieu  to  my  shipmates,  who  were  to  sail  at 
daylight  for  the  Western  Straits,  and  removed  myself  and 
traps  to  a wooden  house  close  to  the  Cuartel,  the  quarters  of 
Don  Centeno,  the  engineer  in  charge  of  the  Government 
works.  The  next  morning,  accompanied  by  Captain  Cushing, 
of  the  schooner  Rippling  Wave,  I set  out  to  procure  some 
few  necessary  supplies,  and  make  inquiries  for  a guide.  We 
bent  our  steps  to  the  store  of  a man  named  Guillermo,  and 
after  purchasing  tobacco  and  other  necessaries,  the  talk 
turned  on  gold,  of  which  Don  Guillermo  showed  us  some 
specimens,  obtained  from  the  banks  of  a neighbouring  stream. 
One  of  the  crew  of  the  Rippling  Wave  grew  greatly  ex- 
cited and  exclaimed,  ‘ Ah,  that’s  the  stuff  we  used  to  grub  up 
in  a creek  in  Californy;  I guess  if  the  old  boat  lays  her  bones 
on  these  here  shores,  I’ll  stop  and  turn  to  digging  again.’ 
Hanging  up  in  the  store  were  some  Indian  bolas  and  a belt 
made  of  beads,  studded  with  silver  bosses,  which  the  owner 
informed  me  was  a woman’s  girdle,  and,  with  the  bolas, 
had  been  left  in  pawn  by  the  Indians.  They  had  not, 
however,  visited  the  colony,  at  least  for  trading  purposes,  for 
several  months,  as  they  had  taken  umbrage  about  a dispute 
between  a Chilian  and  an  Indian,  in  which  they  considered 
their  comrade  to  have  been  treated  with  injustice.  The  party 
described  by  Mr.  Cunningham  evidently  arrived  with  doubt- 
ful intentions,  and  the  tact  displayed  by  Sehor  Yiel  removed 
their  resentment.  This  information  explained  what  had 
previously  mystified  me,  viz.,  that  nothing  was  to  be  seen  or 
heard  of  the  Indians  with  whom  I had  hoped  to  make 
acquaintance.  My  good  fortune  in  arriving  on  the  eve  of  the 
departure  of  the  expedition,  and  the  Commandante’s  courtesy, 
were  now  even  more  keenly  appreciated  by  me,  as  otherwise 
I should  have  been  simply  stranded  in  Punta  Arenas.  The 
guide  difficulty  was  not  long  of  solution,  although,  from  the 
natural  dislike  of  most  of  the  unofficial  population  to  take 
part  in  the  recapture  of  runaways,  it  had  seemed  rather  per- 
plexing. After  we  had  quitted  the  store,  we  were  accosted 


8 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


by  a man  named  J’aria,  who  came  to  offer  his  services.  A 
short  examination  of  his  knowledge  and  recommendations 
proving  satisfactory,  he  was  engaged  on  terms  which  certainly 
were  far  from  exorbitant,  and  he  deserves  to  have  it  recorded 
that  he  fully  earned  his  pay.  My  equipments  and  prepara- 
tions for  the  journey  wrere  now  made  complete  by  the 
thoughtful  good-nature  of  Captain  Cushing,  with  whom  I 
proceeded  on  board  his  vessel,  where  he  provided  from  his 
stores,  and  forced  on  my  acceptance,  several  most  useful 
articles  ; and  it  is  pleasant  to  be  able  to  publish  my  sense  of 
the  kindness  received  from  one  of  our  American  cousins,  who 
are  always  ready  to  sympathise  with  and  befriend  a Britisher, 
at  least  according  to  my  experience. 

A stroll  of  inspection  round  the  settlement  was  extended 
to  the  saw-mill,  not  far  distant,  worked  by  water-power ; 
where,  under  the  direction  of  Mr.  Wells,  an  American,  the 
trees  when  cut  down  are  converted  into  boards  to  build  the 
houses  that  take  the  place  of  the  forest.  Proceeding  thence 
to  the  half-cleared  outskirts,  we  found  the  Commandante 
supervising  numerous  labourers,  principally  of  the  convict 
class,  who  were  busily  engaged  in  felling  trees,  clearing 
stumps,  and  otherwise  preparing  the  way  for  the  future 
development  of  the  settlement. 

To  any  one  unaccustomed  to  frontier  towns,  the  coup-d’ceil 
of  the  town  presented  an  irregular  and  random  growth  of 
wooden  houses ; but  the  plan  which  was  indicated  in  outline 
was  laid  out  after  the  usual  Spanish-American  fashion,  as 
originally  prescribed  by  the  Council  of  the  Indies.  A 
main  street  ran  near  and  parallel  to  the  beach,  crossing 
a large  vacant  square — the  Plaza,  out  of  which,  and  at 
regular  intervals  from  the  main  street,  ran  other  embryo 
streets  intersecting  at  right  angles,  so  that  the  houses, 
whenever  they  should  be  built,  would  form  blocks  or  ‘ cua- 
dros.’  In  the  Plaza  were  the  church  and  a large  unfinished 
school-house.  Chilian  ideas  as  to  the  public  duty  of 
education  are  advanced,  and  the  schoolmaster  is  a state 


FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


9 


functionary,  combining  at  tbis  time  at  Punta  Arenas  the 
duties  of  secretary  to  the  Governor  with  those  proper  to  his 
office.  The  excellent  sketch  of  Staff-Commander  Bedwell 
(Cunningham,  ‘ Straits  of  Magellan,’  page  70)  shows  the 
Governor’s  house  nearly  at  the  end  of  the  main  street,  and 
beyond  it  was  the  Cuartel,  a palisadoed  inclosure,  containing 
the  barracks,  the  gaol  or  lock-up,  and  the  guard-house, 
irreverently  termed  by  the  officers  of  the  Nassau  ‘ The  Punch 
and  Judy  House,’  and  shown  in  the  same  sketch. 

From  this  a constant  look-out  is  maintained,  and  a light 
displayed  at  night.  The  transverse  streets,  running  up 
almost  to  the  uncleared  forest,  were  only  indicated  by 
scattered  houses,  and  in  the  line  of  the  main  street  two  or 
three  detached  dwellings  a mile  distant  were  only  separated 
from  the  trees  by  patches  of  potato  ground. 

The  first  penal  colony  planted  in  the  Straits  by  the 
Chilian  Government  was  established  in  1843,  at  Port  Famine, 
the  ominous  name  of  which  recalls  the  miserable  fate  of  the 
colonists  left  there  by  Sarmiento  in  1581.  The  superior 
anchorage  was  the  inducement  to  select  the  same  place  for 
the  modern  colony,  but  the  same  evil  destiny  seemed  to  cling 
to  it.  After  struggling  on  for  some  years,  during  which  the 
inhabitants  were  frequently  reduced  to  great  distress  by  the 
failure  of  supplies  of  food  from  Chili,  it  was  sacked  and 
destroyed  by  the  convicts,  who  mutinied  and  killed  the 
Governor  and  Padre.  They  afterwards  seized  a vessel  in 
which  they  attempted  to  escape,  but  were  pursued  by  a man- 
of-war,  and  met  with  deserved  punishment. 

The  colony  was  subsequently  removed  to  its  present  posi- 
tion, and  in  addition  to  the  involuntary  immigrants,  chiefly 
deserters  from  the  army,  settlers  were  tempted  by  liberal 
grants  of  land,  and  a large  number  of  Chilotes,  or  natives  of 
Chiloe,  were  introduced.  These  men,  who  are  of  mixed 
Spanish  and  Indian  blood,  are  a hardy,  sturdy  race,  ac- 
customed to  the  use  of  the  axe  in  their  own  thickly-wooded 
country,  whence  they  export  quantities  of  timber.  They  are 


10 


AT  HOME  WITH  TIIE  PATAGONIANS. 


very  Paddies  in  their  diet,  living  almost  together  on 
potatoes,  which  grow  freely  in  Chiloe,  but  in  Punta  Arenas 
do  not  attain  large  size.  Besides  land,  the  Chilotes  receive 
wages  from  the  Government  for  their  labour,  and  are  the 
most  industrious  portion  of  the  population  : the  men  are  hard 
working,  but  also  hard  drinking,  and  the  women  are  said  to 
be  very  lax  in  their  notions  of  fidelity.  Of  the  convicts  some 
were  allowed,  for  good  behaviour,  to  live  in  their  own  houses, 
subject  to  certain  restrictions  ; hut  many  of  them  were  utterly 
reckless,  and  needed  to  be  kept  under  the  strictest  surveil- 
lance, and  locked  up  in  the  Cuartel  every  night.  Notwith- 
standing all  precautions,  escapes  are  continually  contrived, 
and  the  runaways  face  the  difficulties  of  the  Pampas,  some- 
times succeeding  in  joining  the  Patagonians,  but  as  often 
losing  their  way,  and  perishing  of  starvation,  or  becoming  a 
prey  to  the  pumas.  Thus,  ten  or  a dozen  had  succeeded  in 
escaping  just  before  my  visit,  necessitating  the  despatch  of  the 
expedition  in  chase  of  them.  The  garrison  consisted  of  some 
fifty  or  sixty  regular  soldiers,  besides  irregular  employes,  who 
hunt  wild  cattle  or  deserters,  as  occasion  requires.  The 
number  of  troops  is  quite  sufficient  to  defend  the  place 
against  an  attack  of  the  Indians,  but  the  southern  Tehuel- 
ches  are  not  naturally  inclined  to  raids,  and  if  well  and  fairly 
treated  are  more  willing  to  avail  themselves  of  the  trading 
facilities  afforded  by  the  half-dozen  stores,  the  existence  of 
which  could  only,  in  my  mind,  be  accounted  for  by  the  hopes 
of  Indian  barter,  for  they  were  far  in  excess  of  the  wants  of 
the  colony.  Still  the  permanent  population  was  certainly  a 
thirsty  one,  and  seemed  to  do  its  best  to  encourage  trade,  at 
least  in  grog  : drunkenness  in  the  streets  is,  however,  an 
offence  punishable  by  imprisonment,  and  at  the  time  of 
my  visit  the  blacksmith  was  in  durance  vile,  whence  the 
Irish  Doctor  had  only  just  been  released  for  this  venial 
offence. 

There  appeared  to  be  little  cultivation,  with  the  exception 
of  potatoes.  The  climate  does  not  permit  wheat  or  barley  to 


FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


11 


ripen,  though,  perhaps,  oats  or  rye  might  succeed.  The  tame 
cattle  seem  to  be  stunted  and  miserable,  but  in  the  forests 
there  are  others  of  a wild  breed,  which  are  said  to  be  large  and 
of  excellent  quality ; these  as  well  as  the  red  deer,  afford, 
during  some  portion  of  the  year,  occupation  to  a few  hunters, 
who  obtain  high  prices  for  their  meat,  but  the  supply  is  too 
scanty  and  irregular  to  prevent  fresh  meat  from  being  a rare 
luxury.  The  resources  and  prospects  of  the  colony  naturally 
formed  the  subject  of  conversation  at  Senor  Yiel’s,  and  Don 
Centeno,  who  was  in  charge  of  the  survey  of  the  newly- 
discovered  coal-bed  in  the  vicinity,  invited  me  to  join  him 
the  next  day  in  a visit  of  inspection. 

Next  morning  we  accordingly  set  out,  and  crossing  a small 
stream,  shortly  arrived  at  the  commencement  of  the  forest, 
through  which  a straight  road  was  in  course  of  formation 
Numerous  groups  of  Chilotes  were  employed  on  all  sides, 
some  levelling  the  way  already  cleared,  others  at  work  felling 
trees,  others  applying  fire  instead  of  the  axe.  The  timber 
consists  chiefly  of  Chilian  beech  (Fagus  antarctica)  and 
Winter’s  hark,  described  by  Mr.  Cunningham,  the  former  of 
which  splits  readily  and  is  available  for  most  purposes. 

After  Don  Centeno  had  completed  some  minor  details  of 
surveying,  we  struck  into  the  dense  forest,  and  followed  a 
winding  path  until  we  arrived  at  the  bed  of  the  stream, 
w'hich  debouches  at  the  colony.  This  we  followed  up  for 
some  time,  and  eventually  arrived  at  a ravine,  the  sides  of 
which  were  as  regular  as  if  navvies  had  been  employed  to 
form  a cutting,  in  which,  at  a point  of  sixty  yards  above  our 
heads,  the  seam  of  coal  was  visible.  Here  we  dismounted 
and  scrambled  up  a slippery  path  to  a spot  where  a shaft,  or 
rather  burrow,  had  been  driven  into  the  bed,  to  the  depth  of 
perhaps  fifty  or  sixty  feet,  made  apparently  for  the  purpose 
of  examining  the  quality,  regularity,  &c.,  of  the  seam.  The 
coal  did  not  appear  to  me  of  a very  good  quality  ; but  I 
have  since  heard  that  it  gave  exceedingly  favourable  results. 
My  companion  also  pointed  out  to  me  a place  in  the  opposite 


12 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


bank  where  some  men  had  been  washing  for  gold,  the  speci- 
mens of  which  I had  seen  in  the  town ; and  their  labours 
were  said  to  have  been  attended  with  good  returns.  As  the 
day  was  advancing  and  rather  chilly,  a fire  was  kindled  ; and 
after  a warm  thereat,  mounting  our  horses,  we  returned 
homewards  down  the  ravine.  On  emerging  from  the  forest, 
we  observed  a large  steamer  just  on  the  point  of  anchoring  ; 
so  we  hurried  on  to  obtain  news  and  despatch  our  letters  if 
it  should  prove  the  Magalhaens — one  of  the  Hue  of  packets 
from  Liverpool  to  Valparaiso.  On  the  beach  we  found  the 
Commandante  and  Mrs.  Viel,  the  latter  having  visited  the 
vessel  and  obtained  some  English  newspapers.  After  dinner, 
accepting  the  Governor’s  offer  of  his  boat,  I proceeded  on 
board,  and  found  her  to  be  a magnificent  steamer  of  great 
power  and  good  accommodation.  The  establishment  of  this 
line  of  steamers  will  doubtless  have  a most  beneficial  effect 
on  the  prosperity  of  Punta  Arenas  ; as,  though  agriculture 
and  Indian  trade  are  not  likely  to  reward  industrious  or 
speculative  immigrants,  the  discovery  of  the  coal-bed  is  of  the 
most  obvious  importance  as  affecting  the  future  of  this  colony. 
It  will  now  be  possible  to  maintain  powerful  steam-tugs  to 
tow  sailing-vessels  through  the  Straits,  and  thus  avoid  the 
passage  round  Cape  Horn ; whereas  up  to  the  present  time 
the  navigation  of  the  Straits  has  been  almost  closed  to 
sailing-ships  ; while,  owing  to  the  great  steam-power  required, 
even  steamers,  whether  war  or  merchant  ships,  are  frequently 
obliged  to  buy  wood  at  Sandy  Point ; and  then,  owing  to  the 
vast  quantity  used  to  keep  steam,  not  unfrequently  are 
obliged  to  stop  again  before  entering  the  Pacific  to  renew 
their  supply  wherever  they  could  cut  it.  Now  this  will  all 
be  changed,  and  a steam-launch  will  probably  be  kept  to  tow 
the  lighters  to  and  fro,  and  thus  materially  facilitate  coaling. 
As  population  and  colonisation  increase,  encouraged  by  the 
accommodation  afforded  by  the  Pacific  steamers — which  at 
this  present  date  run  every  month,  bringing  the  Straits  of 
Magellan  almost  within  hail — the  interior  of  the  country  may 


X FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ.  13 

become  opened  up,  in  -which  case,  probably,  other  sources  of 
mineral  wealth  will  be  discovered  and  made  productive. 

Our  departure  having  been  definitely  fixed  for  the  morrow, 
I proceeded  to  review  and  arrange  my  equipments  for  the 
journey,  a list  of  which  may  gratify  intending  explorers  of 
Patagonia.  Two  saddle-bags  contained  my  kit  and  neces- 
saries, consisting  of  a couple  of  shirts  and  a jersey  or  two,  a 
few  silk  handkerchiefs,  and  soap,  lucifer  matches,  writing 
materials,  fishing  lines  and  hooks,  quinine  and  caustic,  and  a 
small  bottle  of  strychnine.  The  armoury  comprised  a rifle 
in  case  complete,  and  two  double-barrelled  breech-loading 
pistols,  hunting-knives,  a small  ammunition-case  of  un- 
filled cartridges,  and  a supply  of  powder.  The  only  instru- 
ment ventured  on  was  a small  compass.  My  personal  equip- 
ment was  a shooting  suit  of  tweed  and  a Scotch  cap,  and  a 
most  excellent  pair  of  boots  made  by  Thomas,  to  which  for 
comfort  were  superadded  a guanaco  skin  mantle,  two  ponchos, 
and  a waterproof  sheet.  In  the  evening  Senor  Yiel  intro- 
duced me  to  my  future  travelling  companion,  Lieutenant 
Gallegos,  who  was  to  command  our  party.  He  was  a short, 
thick-set  man,  with  a dark,  almost  Indian  complexion,  and 
looked  all  over  what  the  Commandante  declared  him  to  be, 
‘ a man  for  hard  work.’  In  his  native  province  of  Arauco  he 
had  been  for  many  years  employed  in  the  frontier  wars  with 
the  Indians,  and  could  handle  the  lazo  or  the  lance  with 
wonderful  dexterity.  He  spoke  with  great  cordiality  of  the 
otficers  of  the  Nassau,  and  seemed  well  inclined  to  the  com- 
pany of  one  of  the  same  service ; indeed,  I am  strongly 
inclined  to  believe  that  he  is  introduced  into  the  foreground 
of  Commander  Bedwell’s  sketch — at  all  events,  if  any  reader 
wishes  to  know  his  appearance,  the  occupant  of  the  fallen  tree 
presents  a strong  resemblance  to  the  leader  of  our  party.  Our 
arrangements  and  prospects  were  fully  discussed  ; and  after 
bidding  farewell  to  Captain  Cushing,  who  was  to  sail  the  next 
day,  and  to  my  most  kind  and  courteous  host  and  hostess, 
we  parted,  agreeing  to  meet  at  daylight  l’eady  for  the  road. 


14 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


At  an  early  hour  in  the  morning  of  the  19th  of  April  I 
was  awoke  by  J’aria,  and  with  him  and  my  small  belongings 
proceeded  to  the  Corral,  where  the  horses  were  being  caught 
and  loaded.  Here  we  were  joined  by  Gallegos,  and  when 
everything  was  nearly  ready  for  the  start  adjourned  to  his 
house  close  by  for  a cup  of  coffee.  The  Seiiora  seemed  to 
regard  me  with  great  commiseration,  and  recounted  various 
dismal  tales  of  the  dreadful  cold  winds,  hardships,  Indians, 
and  other  disagreeables  to  be  encountered ; her  consolations 
were  cut  short  by  the  entrance  of  J’aria  with  the  news  that 
all  was  ready.  After  a parting  glass  of  something  stronger 
than  water,  we  got  into  our  saddles,  and  the  cavalcade,  con- 
sisting of  Gallegos,  myself,  one  regular  soldier,  three  irregu- 
lars or  employes  of  the  Government,  and  J’aria,  with  twenty- 
one  horses,  left  the  town.  As  we  passed  the  Cuartel,  the 
guard  turned  out  in  the  balcony  and  presented  arms,  and  the- 
bugler  executed  a musical  salute.  It  was  a fine  frosty 
morning,  and  we  rode  on  in  high  spirits,  accompanied  by 
two  or  three  horsemen,  who  were  going  to  spend  their 
Sunday  festa  in  duck  shooting,  and  had  made  an  early  start 
to  escort  us  a little  way.  Scarcely  had  we  crossed  the 
stream  when  one  of  the  baggage  horses  kicked  his  load  off ; 
this  was  soon  replaced ; hut  when  the  bustle  was  over  and 
the  cavalcade  reformed,  J’aria  and  one  of  the  employes,  to 
whom  I had  confidingly  entrusted  a bottle  of  rum,  were 
missing,  and  they  did  not  turn  up  again  for  some  time,  and 
the  bottle  never  again.  We  rode  along  the  coast  until  we 
reached  the  outpost  called  Tres  Puentes,  where  a narrow 
pass  between  the  forest  on  one  hand  and  the  sea  on  the 
other,  is  barred  by  a gate-house  tenanted  by  two  men,  posted 
there  to  prevent  desertion  ; they  turned  out,  and  we  lingered 
for  a farewell  chat,  during  which  one  of  the  sportsmen 
stalked  and  shot  some  ducks  ; at  the  report  of  his  gun,  the 
regular  soldier’s  horse,  not  being  used  to  stand  fire,  shied 
and  threw  him,  capsizing  his  saddle-bags,  and  strewing  the 
beach  with  tortillas  (cakes)  and  coffee,  with  which  his  no 


FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


15 


doubt  provident  and  thoughtful  ‘ she  ’ had  stored  them. 
Gallegos  sat  in  his  saddle  and  laughed  at  the  scene ; but  as 
the  others  could  not  catch  the  horse,  he  gave  us  a proof  of 
his  dexterity  with  the  lazo.  After  this  little  diversion  we 
pursued  our  course  along  the  beach  as  far  as  Cape  Negro, 
where  the  forests  terminated,  and  our  accompanying  friends 
hade  us  adieu  after  taking  a parting  glass  all  round  ; J’aria 
and  the  other  absentee  overtaking  us  in  time  for  this  part  of 
the  performance. 

Our  horses’  heads  were  then  turned  from  the  coast  in  a 
north-north-west  direction,  and  after  half  an  hour’s  ride  a 
halt  was  called  for  breakfast  under  the  lee  of  a sheltering 
bill,  To  the  southward  we  viewed  the  counter  slope  of  the 
wooded  hills,  below  which  on  the  other  side  lay  Punta  Arenas. 
A thick  growth  of  shrubs  covered  the  ground,  but  beautiful 
glades  of  luxuriant  pasture  were  visible  ; one  of  which  opened 
just  to  the  south  of  our  camping-place,  and  others  appeared 
east  and  west  like  oases  of  green.  Their  appearance  caused 
me  to  remark  that  as  a settler  I should  choose  this  location 
for  my  hut.  Gallegos,  however,  replied  that  the  pastures 
could  not  be  used  for  the  cattle  of  the  settlement  during  the 
summer,  as  neither  the  Indians  nor  their  own  men  could  be 
trusted ; the  latter  would  desert,  and  the  former  would  steal 
the  beasts.  After  a pipe  we  remounted,  and  having  crossed 
the  hill  we  descended  to  the  valley  of  a small  hut  deep  stream, 
called  the  Rio  Chaunco,  having  forded  which  we  ascended  the 
opposite  border  slope,  and  entered  on  the  Pampa,  which 
name  is  universally  used  in  Patagonia  to  designate  the  high 
undulating  plains  or  plateaux,  frequently  intersected  by 
valleys  and  ravines,  or  rising  into  successive  or  isolated  hills, 
which  generally  occupy  the  crest  of  the  country.  The 
Indians,  indeed,  who  know  a little  Castilian,  apply  the  word 
Pampa  indiscriminately  to  any  tract  of  country  hunted  over 
by  them.  After  a successful  day’s  sport,  and  the  content- 
ment consequent  on  a hearty  meal,  they  will  ask  with  great 
satisfaction,  * Muy  buena  Pampa  ? No  ? ’ really  meaning 


16 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


‘ Is  not  the  wild  life  the  best  ? ’ But  English  readers,  who 
have  derived  their  idea  of  a Pampa  from  Head’s  delightful 
work,  or  from  other  experiences  of  the  unlimited  grassy  or 
thistle-covered  plains  which  roll  away  for  miles  in  the  Argen- 
tine States,  and  offer  no  obstruction  to  the  stretching  gallop 
of  the  untiring  gaucho,  must  not  transfer  that  pleasing 
picture  to  Patagonia.  The  Pampas,  properly  so  called,  of 
Patagonia,  occasionally  indeed  present  a tolerably  even  and 
uniform  succession  of  rolling  plains  covered  with  coarse  grass, 
but  more  frequently  the  surface,  even  when  unbroken  by 
hills  and  suddenly  yawning  ravines,  is  sterile,  with  a sparse 
vegetation,  consisting  of  stunted  bushes  and  round  thistle 
clumps  ; and  even  these  are  often  wanting,  and  nothing 
clothes  the  hare  patches  of  clay  or  gravel ; elsewhere  it  is 
strewn  with  huge  round  boulders,  and  again  rugged  with 
confused  heaps  or  ridges  of  bare  sharp-edged  rocks,  many 
of  them  of  volcanic  origin  : this  more  particularly  applying 
to  the  northern  part  of  the  country.  The  only  uniformity 
of  appearance  is  afforded  in  the  winter,  when  the  white 
sheet  of  snow  covers  rocks,  grass,  and  shingle ; hut  one 
accompaniment  is  the  same,  whatever  be  the  nature  of  the 
soil  or  surface  ; and  the  word  Pampa  invariably  recalls  to 
one’s  shuddering  memory  the  cutting  blasts  which  sweep 
almost  without  intermission  from  various  points,  but  chiefly 
from  the  west,  over  the  high  country,  till,  reaching  the  heated 
atmosphere  of  Buenos  Ayres,  the  cold  Patagonian  wind 
becomes  the  Pampero,  the  sudden  and  terrific  blasts  of 
which  cause  so  many  disasters  among  the  shipping.  The 
descent  from  these  Pampas  to  the  valleys,  or  more  sheltered 
and  fertile  level  ground  bordering  the  banks  of  the  streams 
and  rivers,  is  commonly  termed  ‘ Barranca,’  or  bank,  from 
the  scarped  slopes,  varying  in  depth  from  fifty  to  two  ox- 
three  feet,  and  in  angle  from  an  easy  to  an  almost  perpen- 
dicular descent,  but  often  fissured  by  ravines  or  gullies, 
affording  i-oads,  down  all  of  which,  however,  the  native 
riders  gallop  with  equal  i-ecklessness. 


FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


17 


The  Pampa  we  were  now  traversing  presented  an  expanse 
of  undulating  or  rolling  plains  covered  with  a uniform  growth 
of  coarse  grass  interspersed  with  barberry  bushes,  and 
occasional  lagoons  in  the  hollows.  No  living  creatures 
except  ourselves  appeared  on  the  waste.  To  the  westward 
the  snow-clad  peaks  of  the  mountains  bordering  the  Sarmi- 
ento  Straits  greeted  us  with  an  icy  blast  which  made  my 
thoughts  longingly  revert  to  the  cozy  cabin  and  my  late  ship- 
mates, who  were,  no  doubt,  threading  the  intricacies  of  its 
channels.  But  the  good  guanaco  mantle  kept  out  the  wind, 
and  our  motley  party  pushed  briskly  on  in  good  order. 
Lieutenant  Gallegos  has  been  already  introduced  ; as  to  the 
others,  J’aria  was  a small  man,  of  rough  exterior,  of  doubtful 
extraction,  and  more  than  doubtful  antecedents,  who  looked 
fit  for  any  business  except  good;  but  he  served  me  most 
assiduously  and  with  unlooked-for  care.  The  soldier  was  a 
fine-looking  fellow,  new  to  the  Pampas,  whose  carbine,  which 
he  duly  carried,  proved  a source  of  great  embarrassment  to 
him ; and  his  horse  being  by  no  means  too  manageable,  he 
was  considerably  bothered,  much  to  the  delight  of  the  rest. 
Two  others  were  hybrids,  between  gauchos  and  sailors, 
having,  like  our  marines,  been  equally  accustomed  to  service 
per  mare,  per  terrain;  but,  like  the  jollies,  they  were  un- 
mistakably useful  and  good  men.  The  las  of  the  party 
was  of  the  J’aria  type.  All  were  well  mounted,  and  provided 
with  a spare  horse.  We  earned  for  provisions  biscuit, 
charqui  or  dried  meat,  roasted  wheat  meal,  and  coffee  and 
sugar,  and  were  furnished  with  an  unusual  but  welcome 
luxury,  a small  tent,  underneath  which  we  cared  little  for 
the  bitter  frost  outside. 

After  riding  over  the  Pampas  for  three  or  four  hours,  we 
encamped  for  the  night  in  a hollow  by  the  side  of  a lagoon, 
having  selected  a suitable  spot  for  pitching  the  tent  on  the 
sheltered  slope,  well  out  of  the  sweep  of  the  wind.  The 
lagoon  was  covered  with  black-necked  swans  and  other  wild 
fowl ; so,  as  soon  as  the  horses  had  been  unloaded  and  looked 

2 


18 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


after,  a fire  lit,  and  all  arrangements  made  for  camping, 
two  or  three  of  us  went  out  to  try  and  shoot  some  wild  fowl ; 
hut  our  sporting  endeavours  were  not  crowned  with  much 
success,  and  a little  before  dark  we  returned  to  a supper  of 
charqui,  and  after  a talk  over  the  fire,  turned  in,  and  slept 
sound  and  warm,  though  outside  the  frost  was  severe.  My 
mind  was  much  disquieted,  first  hy  the  discovery  that  the  box 
of  rifle  ammimition  which  J’aria  carried  had  been  dropped  by 
that  worthy  at  the  scene  of  the  baggage  horse  escapade,  and 
secondly,  by  the  mysterious  absence  from  my  shot-belt  of 
all  my  coin,  consisting  of  an  onza  and  a few  sovereigns.  I 
said  nothing,  however,  until  next  morning,  when  I proceeded 
quietly  to  search,  remembering  that  I had  taken  off  my 
accoutrements  before  the  tent  was  pitched,  and  dropped  in 
the  grass  I found  the  missing  coins.  The  story  afforded 
J'aria  a great  theme  for  jokes,  and  he  often  adverted  to  the 
chance  of  inheriting  my  ounce,  in  a way  that  might  have 
made  a timid  traveller  expect  foul  play,  though  nothing  was 
farther  from  my  guide’s  thoughts.  At  seven  o’clock,  after 
coffee  and  a biscuit,  we  were  again  en  route,  and  about  ten 
arrived  close  to  the  head  of  Peckett’s  Harbour.  Here  one  of 
the  party  discovered  a horse,  which  was  chased  into  our 
troop,  hut  as  it  appeared  lame,  was  not  pressed  into  our 
service  ; it  had  probably  belonged  to  the  Indians.  As  in  a 
long  voyage,  so  in  a journey  of  this  description,  the  slightest 
novelty  serves  to  relieve  what  it  is  needless  to  say  becomes 
the  slightly  monotonous  task  of  trotting  along  behind  the 
troop  of  horses  over  barren  wastes,  so  we  were  always  on  the 
qui  rive  for  something  to  chase.  One  of  the  men  had  a dog 
with  him,  and  shortly  after  the  excitement  about  the  horse 
we  started  some  ostriches,  which,  however,  proved  too  swift 
for  the  cur,  and  escaped  over  some  muddy  plots  close  to  the 
‘ Cabecera  del  Mar.’  This  is  a large  inlet  or  arm  of  the  sea, 
running  up  some  miles  from  Peckett’s  Harbour,  with  which 
it  communicates  by  a very  narrow  channel,  which  can  only 
he  crossed  at  low  water ; it  was  our  good  fortune  to  arrive  at 


FROM  TEE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


19 


this  period,  thus  escaping  a long  detour  round  the  inlet. 
But  our  crossing  was  not  effected  without  trouble ; the 
flood-tide  rushing  up  like  a mill-race,  and  proving  almost 
too  much  for  the  steadiness  of  one  of  the  baggage-horses. 
After  clearing  the  channel,  in  our  farther  progress  we  passed 
several  small  streams  with  swampy  ground,  all  of  which 
probably  discharge  themselves  into  Oazy  Harbour,  and 
arrived  towards  evening  at  an  old  Indian  encampment  situ- 
ated under  a range  of  hills,  running  more  or  less  north  and 
south,  forming  one  harrier  of  a broad  and  well-watered  valley, 
hounded  on  the  eastern  side  by  the  well-known  ‘ Barrancas  ’ 
of  San  Gregorio. 

Our  station  was  just  within  the  opening  of  the  valley, 
which,  being  sheltered  from  the  wind,  is  the  favourite  winter 
quarters  of  the  Southern  Tehuelches,  whose]  encampment  is 
usually  pitched  near  Oazy  Harbour,  called  by  them  ‘ Oazy 
Saba.’ 

Westward  the  low  flats  which  bordered  the  shores  of  the 
Cabecera  del  Mar  terminated  in  irregular  hills,  beyond  which 
higher  peaks  rose,  and  they  in  their  turn  were  overlooked  by 
distant  snow-clad  summits  on  the  horizon.  Among  the  blue 
hills  of  the  middle  distance  floated  wreaths  of  light  haze  so 
much  resembling  smoke  that  Gallegos,  ever  on  the  alert  for 
signs  of  the  deserters,  proposed  to  deviate  from  our  route 
to  investigate,  and  only  my  strongly  pronounced  opinion  in 
favour  of  haze  versus  smoke  induced  him  to  give  up  the  idea. 
The  Argentine  Government  formerly  planned  a settlement  in 
this  valley,  which  was  not  carried  out,  and  the  missionaries 
also  proposed  to  fix  a station  hereabouts,  with  Oazy  Harbour 
as  a depot,  but  the  Chilians  of  Punto  Arena  set  up  their 
claims  and  compelled  the  missionaries  to  desist. 

After  camp  was  arranged,  the  weather,  which  since  our 
start  had  been  bright  with  cold  winds  and  moderate  frosts 
at  night,  changed  to  rain,  and  Gallegos  proposed  to  me  that, 
,'n  the  event  of  its  continuing  bad,  we  should  remain  under 
the  shelter  of  the  tent.  However,  though  the  night  was 


20 


AT  HOME  WITn  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


rough  and  rainy,  morning  broke  fair  and  the  sun  rose  bright 
and  warm,  so  we  started,  following  a path  along  the  base  of 
the  before-mentioned  range  of  hills  until  about  ten  o’clock, 
when,  just  after  passing  a beautiful  little  stream  where  I 
noticed  fish  darting  about  in  the  pools,  a herd  of  guanaco, 
hitherto  concealed  by  a small  eminence,  came  into  view. 
Chase  was  immediately  given,  hut  most  of  our  horses  were 
soon  blown,  and  Gallegos,  the  soldier,  and  myself  having 
ascended  the  hills  over  which  the  herd  had  taken  flight,  as  it 
appeared  useless  to  continue  the  chase,  stopped  on  the  crest 
and  watched  the  animals  as  they  streamed  up  on  an  opposite 
hill.  One  of  the  party  was  missing,  and  suddenly  an  ex- 
clamation from  the  Lieutenant,  ‘ What  is  it  ? ’ caused  us  to 
turn  our  eyes  in  the  direction  to  which  he  pointed,  where 
some  fancied  they  descried  a man.  The  idea  of  deserters 
immediately  occurred  to  their  minds,  so  they  started  off, 
asking  me  to  tell  J’aria  (who  had  remained  with  the  horses) 
to  travel  on  to  a given  spot  at  the  head  of  the  valley. 
Having  descended  the  hill,  which  was  tunnelled  with  burrows 
of  the  Ctenomys  Magellanicus,*  the  crowns  of  which,  yield- 
ing to  the  horses’  tread,  proved  a series  of  dangerous  traps,  I 
rejoined  J’aria,  and  we  pursued  our  way  for  a few  miles  until 
we  reached  a small  lagoon  at  the  head  of  the  valley,  coveredl 
with  thousands  of  widgeon  and  duck.  The  sight  suggested 
the  thought  that  no  man  need  starve  in  this  country,  so 
abundant  seemed  the  supplies  of  animal  life.  Here  we 
waited,  and  in  the  course  of  half  an  hour  the  remainder 
came  up  with  their  horses  blown,  one  of  the  party  having  a 
piece  of  guanaco  meat  hanging  to  his  saddle.  This  was 
Jose  Marinero,  one  of  the  hybrids,  who  had  succeeded  in 
lazoing  a guanaco,  at  which  he  appeared  intensely  delighted. 
The  ‘ man,’  as  I had  previously  supposed,  proved  imaginary. 
I regretted  not  being  up  at  the  death,  as  it  turned  out  that 
Jose  had  been  close  to  us,  but  hidden  from  sight  by  a rise. 
After  a pleasant  and  refreshing  rest  and  a draught  of  cafe 
* Cunningham,  p.  133. 


FROM  TUE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


21 


Quillota  (parched  corn  meal  and  water),  we  resumed  our 
route  north.  After  leaving  the  lagoon,  a scarcely  perceptible 
slope  ascended  from  the  valley,  and  a more  undulating  course 
was  traversed  until  we  reached  a small  canon,  which  after  a 
gradual  descent  dipped  down  between  walls  a hundred  feet 
high,  sloping  up  at  either  hand,  and  finishing  in  a rounded 
summit  leading  to  the  high  plain.  ‘ Here,’  said  J’aria,  ‘ there 
is  no  firing,  and  those  stupid  Indian  women  actually  carry 
loads  of  it  from  the  next  stage.’  But  the  event  proved 
that  the  Indians  were  wiser  than  ourselves.  Following  this, 
we  arrived  at  another  canon  running  at  right  angles,  east 
and  west,  on  one  of  the  grass-covered  sides  of  which  we 
observed  a couple  of  horses  feeding  in  a hollow  which  looked 
more  verdant  than  the  rest  of  the  ground,  but  the  animals 
being  caught  and  examined  proved  unsound  and  useless. 
In  the  bottom  of  the  canon  there  flowed  a small  but  deep 
stream  spreading  into  lagoons  in  places.  We  crossed  this 
and  encamped  on  the  northern  side,  and  found  J’aria’s 
words,  as  to  no  fuel  to  be  found  about  this  valley,  verified, 
much  to  our  discomfort.  Towards  evening  we  went  out  and 
shot  some  ducks,  but  having  no  fire  to  cook  with,  were  con- 
tent to  turn  in  on  meal  and  water.  During  the  night  the 
tent  pole,  having  been  first  soaked  with  rain  and  then  frozen, 
snapped  in  two,  and  down  came  the  spread  of  wet  canvas  ; 
and  altogether  we  did  not  spend  a very  pleasant  time. 

Misfortunes  never  come  single ; at  daylight  no  horses  were 
to  be  seen,  and  we  had  to  wait  until  near  ten  o’clock  before 
they  turned  up.  During  this  interval  we  burnt  the  tent  pegs 
and  some  chips  from  the  tent  pole,  and  raised  sufficient  fire 
to  make  coffee.  J’aria  informed  me  that  this  canon  extends 
from  .the  Cordillera  to  the  sea,  but  runs  in  a tortuous  manner, 
and  we  afterwards  again  struck  either  the  main  line  or  some 
canon  leading  from  it.  Having  scaled  the  precipitous 
banks,  we  headed  towards  a range  of  peaked  hills,  curiously 
resembling  one  another,  and  after  passing  down  one  or  two 
more  canons,  where  we  refreshed  ourselves  with  the  berries 


22 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


of  a barberry  (Berberis  axifolia),  called  by  the  Chilians  cali- 
fate,  and  also  saw  plenty  of  the  red  and  white  tea-berries,  so 
common  in  the  Falklands,  we  entered  a wide  plain  or  valley, 
at  the  farther  end  of  which  rose  a peculiar  pointed  hill,  one  of 
a range  that  stretched  away  east  and  west,  pierced  by  a pass. 
In  the  midst  of  it  a huge  square  flat  rock  shone  white  in  the 
sunlight,  forming  a striking  object : it  looked  like  a megalith, 
deposited  by  giants  to  cover  the  grave  of  some  deceased  hero. 
Others  of  less  dimensions  lay  strewn  here  and  there,  giving 
somewhat  of  a graveyard  aspect  to  the  scene.  As  we  ad- 
vanced the  ground  was  encumbered  with  rocks  and  scoria}, 
lying  in  heaps  in  all  directions,  making  it  very  difficult 
travelling  for  the  horses,  and  on  arriving  at  the  hills  them- 
selves their  appearance  was  decidedly  volcanic.  The  whole 
immediate  vicinity  of  this  range  of  hills  presented  a peculiarly 
wild,  blasted,  and  weird  appearance  ; nevertheless  ostriches 
and  guanaco  were  observable  in  great  quantities.  My  first 
thought  on  passing  one  hill,  where,  among  the  other 
fantastic  forms  into  which  the  rocks  had  been  tossed,  was 
a natural  corral,  or  circle  of  huge  fragments,  built  with 
apparent  regularity,  but  of  superhuman  dimensions,  was, 
‘ What  a hell  this  must  have  been  when  the  volcanoes  were 
in  an  active  state,  belching  out  the  streams  of  lava  and 
showers  of  rock,  and  that  perhaps  at  no  distant  period  ! ’ 
While  at  Santa  Cruz,  Casimiro  told  me  of  an  active  volcano 
situated  at  a distance  and  in  a direction  which  would  fix 
it  as  belonging  to  this  range.  Formerly  its  neighbour- 
hood had  been  frequented  by  the  Indians,  as  the  guanaco 
resorted  thither  in  great  numbers  during  the  winter ; but 
the  Indians’  horses  most  of  them  had  been  poisoned  by 
drinking  the  water  of  a stream  close  to  the  range,  and  soon 
after  all  the  toldos  were  shaken  down  by  an  earthquake  or 
the  vibration  of  an  explosion,  and  since  then  they  had  not 
ventured  to  go  near  the  place.  Casimiro  and  Gonzalez  had, 
however,  subsequently  ascended  the  volcano,  and  had  killed 
numbers  of  guanaco  in  the  neighbourhood.  It  was  also 


FROM  TEE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


23 


mentioned  that  when  they  were  encamped  on  the  Cuheyli,  or 
Coy  Inlet  River,  tremendous  volumes  of  thick  black  smoke, 
rolling  from  the  west,  enveloped  the  Indians  and  terrified 
them  exceedingly.  No  signs  were  afterwards  found  of  burned 
pasture,  and  it  was  conjectured  that  the  Canoe  Indians  of 
the  Chonos  Archipelago  had  fired  the  western  forests,  but  it 
was  much  more  likely  to  have  been  due  to  volcanic  eruption. 
While  trotting  along  the  defile  through  these  hills  formed 
by  a chasm,  with  perpendicular  walls  of  rock  rising  on  each 
hand,  as  evenly  scraped  as  the  sides  of  a railway  cutting, 

I observed  several  caves,  which  J’aria  had  a tradition  the 
Indians  formerly  used  as  dwelling-places.  This  pass  led  into 
another  valley  still  more  rugged,  and  strewn  with  sharp 
angular  fragments  of  rock,  amongst  which  stunted  shrubs 
began  to  appear  ; and  lagoons,  some  of  which  were  encrusted 
round  the  edges  with  saltpetre,  and  contained  brackish  water, 
might  be  seen  at  intervals.  Towards  evening  we  encamped 
by  the  side  of  a small  lagoon  of  circular  form  with  wall-like 
cliffs  rising  some  200  feet  from  its  banks,  and  nearly  sur- 
rounding it.  I took  a stroll,  rifle  in  hand,  whilst  the  men 
were  getting  firewood  ; and  plenty  guanaco  were  visible, 
but  I only  succeeded  in  wounding  one,  which  escaped  on 
three  legs.  Traces  of  puma,  in  the  shape  of  carrion,  were 
also  there,  but  Leon  himself  was  hidden.  So  I returned 
empty-handed  to  the  fire,  where  I found  a cheerful  supper 
of  wild  duck  and  guanaco  meat  just  ready.  The  moon 
was  beautiful,  and  the  air  just  frosty  enough  to  be  bracing 
and  exhilarating,  so  some  of  us  staid  smoking  and  spin- 
ning yarns  until  the  small  hours.  The  stories  were  chiefly 
of  adventures  on  the  Pampas.  Jose  narrated  how,  when 
in  pursuit  of  a party  of  runaways  in  the  depth  of  winter, 
when  the  snow  lay  thick  on  the  ground,  he  and  his  com- 
rade rode  into  a valley  where  countless  guanaco  had  taken 
refuge  from  the  storm  in  the  upper  heights,  and  stood 
huddled  together,  too  benumbed  by  the  cold  to  attempt  to 
escape,  and  were  slaughtered  like  oxen  in  the  shambles.  In 


24 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


another  hunt  the  party  overtook  the  deserters,  housed  in 
the  toldo  of  an  Indian,  and  a fight  ensued,  ending  in  the 
death  of  one  of  the  pursuers  ; the  deserter  who  shot  him  was 
pistolled,  and  J’aria  and  Jose  carried  the  dead  body  of  their 
comrade  on  horseback  to  the  settlement,  sixty  miles  distant, 
proceeding  without  a halt  all  through  the  night,  and  ac- 
complishing their  ghastly  journey  by  the  next  morning. 
J’aria  related  how  he  had  been  drifted  in  a launch  among  the 
ice  in  the  Straits,  and  carried  over  to  Tierra  del  Fuego,  where 
they  found  rocks  so  magnetic  that  iron  nails  adhered  to  them. 
He  further  amused  us  by  a short  dissertation  on  his  domestic 
arrangements  ; how,  when  his  last  wife  died,  he  married  a 
Chilote  to  be  mother  for  his  children  and  wife  for  him,  and 
he  always  called  her  in  conversation  the  ‘ Madre  Muger  ’ — 
wife  mother. 

Next  morning  we  started  early,  and  varying  our  march 
with  one  or  two  races  after  foxes,  which  generally  met  their 
death  in  a very  short  time,  and  an  engagement  with  a female 
puma,  which  one  of  the  men  despatched  by  a splendid  re- 
volver shot  through  the  head,  traversed  some  uneven  Pampas, 
with  occasional  hills,  and  arrived  at  the  descent  of  the 
valley  of  the  Rio  Gallegos,  where  the  very  remarkable  bench 
formation,  afterwards  observed  on  a smaller  or  larger  scale 
in  other  Patagonian  rivers,  first  arrested  my  attention.  To 
the  west,  some  miles  away,  a high  hill,  apparently  of  basalt, 
the  square  summit  of  which,  with  seemingly  regular  walls 
and  towers,  mimicked  the  distant  view  of  an  extensive 
fortress,  served  as  a landmark  for  the  break  in  the  bar- 
ranca, which  formed  a natural  road,  by  which  we  reached 
the  first  or  upper  bench,  a mile  and  a half  in  width ; from 
this  a drop  or  scarped  slope  of  fifty  feet  and  upwards  de- 
scended to  another  terrace  or  plain  of  equal  extent,  and 
terminating  in  another  fall,  at  the  bottom  of  which  lay 
the  bed  of  the  river  ; it  is  fordable  in  the  summer  months, 
I believe,  in  many  places,  but  when  we  crossed  the  water 
about  reached  where  one’s  saddle  flaps  would  be  if  riding  on 


FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


25 


an  English  saddle.  After  crossing  the  ford,  a halt  took  place 
to  smoke  a pipe,  whilst  doing  which  we  watched  the  gyra- 
tions of  a huge  vulture  of  the  condor  species  ; he  hovered 
for  some  time,  and  at  length  boldly  settled  on  a point  of 
rock  about  a hundred  yards  distant ; so  the  soldier,  whose 
carbine  was  always  ready,  took  a shot,  but  missed,  much  to 
the  grief  of  Gallegos,  who  asserts  that  the  heart  of  the 
vulture  is  a good  remedy  for  certain  diseases.  We  then 
mounted,  and  riding  about  a mile  halted  for  the  night  by  a 
spring,  gushing  out  of  a ravine  in  the  slope  between  the  upper 
and  lower  benches,  where  the  pasture  was  good,  as  J’aria 
declared  that  water  was  scarce  for  some  leagues  farther  on. 
The  bivouac  arranged,  Jose  and  myself  proceeded  to  try  and 
shoot  a guanaco,  but  the  plain  was  too  open,  so,  after  light- 
ing up  a bit  of  dry  grass  to  attract  any  neighbouring 
Indians,  we  very  foolishly  indulged  in  a bathe  in  the  river. 
The  water  was  intensely  cold,  and  the  ill  effects  of  this  ill- 
timed  indulgence  were  felt  for  a long  time  after.  The  soldier 
meanwhile  was  away  on  horseback,  chasing  a large  herd,  but 
he  returned  about  dusk  empty-handed.  Next  morning  we 
started  about  nine  o’clock,  having  been,  as  usual,  delayed  by  the 
horses  having  strayed  some  distance.  Ascending  the  slope, 
we  crossed  the  higher  bench,  a barren,  dreary  waste,  for 
about  a league,  until  we  came  to  a lagoon  covered  with 
upland  geese,  and  lying  just  below  what  may  be  termed  the 
barranca  of  the  Upper  Pampa.  Halting  here  for  a smoke 
and  warm  to  dispel  the  effects  of  the  intensely  cold  wind,  we 
were  about  resuming  our  route  to  ascend  the  steep  slope  of 
the  upper  plains,  when  large  columns  of  smoke,  in  answer  to 
the  signal  fire  we  had  left  behind  us,  rose  up  to  the  sky  in  a 
N.E.  direction.  We  moved  on,  and  arriving  at  the  summit 
of  the  ascent,  looked  eagerly  round  for  signs  of  the  fire,  but 
nothing  was  visible.  The  plains  lay  before  us  apparently 
destitute  of  life,  excepting  a stray  guanaco  here  and  there. 
J’aria  then  set  light  to  a neighbouring  bush,  which  gave  out 
dense  clouds  of  black  smoke,  and  in  a few  minutes  this  was 


26 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


answered  in  the  same  direction  as  that  previously  observed. 
A horseman  was  at  length  espied  galloping  towards  us,  who 
proved  to  be  an  Indian  named  Sam,  son  of  the  chief  Casimiro, 
who  has  been  mentioned  in  the  missionary  reports.  After 
conversing  for  a short  time  with  J’aria  and  Callegos,  he 
turned  to  me,  and  said,  in  English,  ‘ How  do  you  do  ? I speak 
little  Anglishe,’  which  he  had  learned  during  a visit  to  the 
Falklands,  where  also  he  had  acquired  his  sobriquet  of  Sam 
Slick.  He  then  galloped  away  at  full  speed,  and  brought  up  his 
companions,  who  had  been  concealed  from  view  in  a neigh- 
bouring hollow ; the  party  consisted  of  two  men  and  a boy,  and 
two  women,  all  mounted,  and  apparently  having  just  finished 
hunting,  as  they  had  plenty  of  fresh  guanacomeat  with  them. 
"YVe  halted  by  a bush,  and  in  a few  minutes  had  a fire 
kindled,  and  the  pipe  being  handed  round,  I had  an  oppor- 
tunity of  observing  them  closely.  The  men  were  fine  mus- 
cular specimens.  One,  whom  they  called  Henrique,  was  a 
Fuegian — formerly,  I believe,  a captive,  but  now  doctor,  or 
wizard.  He  travelled  with  this  party  separate  from  the 
remainder  of  the  tribe,  on  account  of  some  suspicion  of  his 
having  caused  the  death  of  a chief.  One  of  the  men,  taller 
than  the  others,  was  a Tehuelche.  The  boy  was  bright  look- 
ing and  intelligent,  and  it  afterwards  appeared  that  Don 
Luiz  Buena  had  kept  him  for  some  time,  vainly  endeavouring 
to  teach  him  Spanish.  They  were  very  cordial,  and  especially 
forced  on  me  more  meat  than  I could  carry ; but  there  was  a 
certain  constraint  visible  in  their  manners,  probably  owing 
to  their  being  conscious  of  some  dealings  with  the  deserters, 
whom  J’aria  counselled  them  to  despatch  whenever  they  might 
meet  with  them.  The  women  carried  bottles  of  water,  which 
they  readily  gave  us,  to  our  great  refreshment  and  relief,  for 
we  were  all  parched  with  thirst. 

Gallegos  asked  Sam  whether  he  was  willing  to  guide  us  to 
Santa  Cruz,  J’aria  not  being  over-certain  of  the  route.  The 
tracks  made  by  the  guanacos  are  easily  mistaken  by  almost 
any  one  but  an  Indian  for  the  trail  of  ‘chinas,’  or  caravan* 


FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


27 


of  women  and  laden  horses  ; and  this,  combined  with  the 
want  of  landmarks  on  the  Pampas  and  the  confusing  succes- 
sion of  hills  closely  resembling  each  other,  renders  it  only 
too  easy  to  lose  the  right  direction.  As  examples  of  this, 
out  of  ten  deserters  of  whom  the  party  were  in  search,  six 
were  never  more  heard  of.  Our  guide  J’aria  himself,  when 
travelling  from  Santa  Cruz  to  the  colony,  lost  his  way,  and 
would  inevitably  have  starved  had  he  not  fortunately  been 
fallen  in  with  by  a party  of  Indians.  Sam  having  agreed  to 
come  with  our  party,  we  bid  adieu  to  the  Indians,  who,  in 
return  for  then'  presents  of  meat,  were  gratified  with  a little 
tobacco,  and  rode  off.  Suddenly  a fox  started  up  from  a 
neighbouring  bush.  The  soldier  gave  chase,  Sam  shouted, 

‘ Stop,  I’ll  show  you : ’ at  the  same  time  putting  spurs  to 
his  horse,  and  cutting  Reynard  off,  he  put  his  hand  to  his 
waist-belt,  drew  out  his  bolas,  gave  them  two  turns  round 
his  head,  and  in  another  minute  the  fox  was  lying  dead,  with 
his  ribs  crushed  completely  in  where  the  metal  ball  had 
struck  him.  Under  the  directions  of  our  new  guide,  who 
rode  ahead  with  me,  we  traversed  a succession  of  high 
barren  plains,  sinking  into  frequent  irregular  hollows,  without 
streams,  but  usually  containing  lagoons  of  salt  or  brackish 
water,  until,  about  4 p.m.,  we  descended  into  the  valley  of 
Rio  Cuheyli,  or  the  river,  which  debouches  at  Coy  Inlet. 
The  bench  formation,  though  noticeable,  is  not  here  so 
decidedly  marked.  For  some  time  we  pursued  the  trail  in 
an  orderly  march  ; but  an  ostrich  springing  nearly  under  our 
horses’  feet,  and  escaping  over  some  marshy  swamp,  where 
horses  could  not  follow,  roused  Sam’s  hunting  propensities, 
and  he  proposed  to  myself,  the  soldier,  and  Jose  to  leave  the 
path — which  he  said,  with  emphatic  disdain,  was  good  for 
women,  not  for  men — and  ride  up  the  barranca  to  see  him 
ball  an  ostrich  ; so  having  regained  the  Pampa,  we  formed 
into  line,  about  two  hundred  yards  apart,  to  drive  a certain 
area  of  ground  down  to  a point  where  there  was  a gentle 
slope  to  the  valley,  so  as  to  meet  the  advancing  cavalcade  of 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


the  rest  of  our  party.  We  saw  nothing  except  one  ostrich 
vanishing  at  great  speed  towards  the  valley  at  another  point, 
and  a pair  of  doves,  which  I remarked  with  interest ; so  we 
returned  to  the  track,  and  as  night  was  closing  in,  pushed 
on,  wishing  to  cross  the  ford  of  the  river  and  encamp  on  the 
other  side.  At  seven  o’clock,  having  reached  a nice  spring 
flowing  from  the  barranca,  where  there  was  firewood  in 
profusion,  Gallegos  ordered  a halt,  although  Sam  wished  to 
proceed,  observing  that  the  moon  was  so  bright  it  was  ‘ all 
the  same  as  day.’  We  accordingly  encamped  for  the  night, 
after  making  a good  supper  off  guanaco  meat,  which  was  a 
pleasant  change  after  our  previous  charqui.  The  valley  of 
the  Cuheyli  slightly  indicates  the  bench  formation,  though  it 
does  not  present  so  distinctly  marked  terraces  as  those 
which  border  the  Gallegos  River ; but  the  lowest  or  river 
plain,  which  is  nearly  two  leagues  wide  in  the  neighbour- 
hood of  the  ford,  is  of  a more  fertile  character,  the  pasture 
being  luxuriant  and  good.  One  or  two  of  the  springs— 
notably  the  one  the  water  of  which,  contrary  to  our  guide’s 
advice  and  example,  we  drank — had  a strong  taste  of  iron, 
which  caused  all  the  party  to  suffer  from  internal  derange- 
ment ; and  Sam  stated  that  near  our  encampment  there  was 
a deposit  of  the  black  earth  with  which  the  Indians  paint 
their  bodies.  Starting  early,  after  a night  of  severe  frost, 
we  soon  struck  the  ford.  Our  guide  had  vanished  ; but 
while  rearranging  the  packs,  we  saw  a volume  of  black  smoke 
rising  to  the  east,  caused  by  Sam,  who,  having  thus  sig- 
nalled his  countrymen,  rejoined  us  on  the  march  across  the 
slightly  ascending  plain.  We  then  observed  numerous 
Indians  galloping  in  our  direction,  and  crossing  the  stream 
at  various  parts,  as  J’aria  remarked,  quite  regardless  of  fords. 
We  halted,  and  were  soon  surrounded  by  about  forty  or 
more,  most  of  them  riding  useful-looking  horses  barebacked. 
As  they  appeared  very  friendly,  Gallegos  gave  them  some 
biscuit  and  charqui ; their  chiefs — the  head  cacique  being  a 
nephew  of  Casimiro — forming  them  into  a semicircle,  in 


FROM  TEE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


29 


tolerably  good  order,  to  receive  the  present.  There  were 
undoubtedly  some  very  tall  men  amongst  them,  but  what 
struck  me  particularly  was  their  splendid  development  of 
chest  and  arms.  Although  the  wind  was  very  sharp,  many 
of  them  had  their  mantles  thrown  back  in  a careless  way, 
leaving  their  naked  chests  exposed  in  the  air,  and  appeared 
not  the  least  incommoded.  They  readily  recognised  me  for 
an  Englishman,  coming  and  examining  me  closely,  and  asking 
for  tobacco  with  a broad  grin  on  then’  faees,  exposing  a 
wonderfully  clean  and  regular  set  of  teeth.  My  gratifying 
their  importunate  requests  for  tobacco  made  Sam  very 
jealous,  and  for  some  time  he  bothered  me  with  remarks 
such  as  ‘ Me  very  cold,  no  got  poncho,’  ‘ Me  no  got  knife, 
me  no  got  “ pellon”  ’ (saddle-cloth),  until,  finding  it  useless 
to  beg,  he  relapsed  into  sullen  silence.  A smoke  of  the  pipe, 
however,  brought  him  back  to  his  usual  cheerful  temper,  and 
as  we  galloped  along  he  chanted  an  Indian  song,  which  con- 
sisted of  the  words  ‘Ah  ge  lay  loo,  Ah  ge  lay  loo,’  ex- 
pressed in  various  keys. 

After  a ride  of  some  leagues  in  a rather  more  open  but  still 
undulating  country,  a break  in  the  Pampas  was  reached. 
Hills  of  irregular  and  picturesque  outlines,  with  labyrinthine 
valleys  or  ravines,  not  running  in  parallel  order,  but  com- 
municating with  each  other,  occupied  an  extensive  district, 
and  though  travelling  was  considerably  more  difficult,  yet  the 
change  in  the  aspect  of  nature  was  grateful  after  the  barren 
monotony  of  the  plains. 

We  halted  in  an  Indian  encampment,  situated  in  a valley 
underneath  a peaked  hill  called  ‘ Otiti, ’ where  there  were 
pools  of  fresh  and  salt  water  in  close  proximity.  Amongst 
the  incense  and  thorn  bushes,  which  grow  at  intervals  in 
these  regions,  we  passed  to-day  another  description  of  shrub 
with  a thick  rough  bark,  which  is  readily  detached,  and  leaves 
a long  rattail-like  sort  of  twig.  From  the  Rio  Gallegos  the 
soil  had  become  generally  of  a yellower  colour  than  on  the 
south  side  of  that  river,  although  in  the  valleys  and  hollows 


30 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


dark  peaty  earth  was  generally  to  be  found,  and  the  surface 
of  the  Pampas  had  assumed  a more  desolate  appearance, 
being  strewn  with  small  pebbles,  and  studded  with  bushes — 
generally  of  a thorny  species.  Round  clumps  of  prickly 
thistles- — which  burn  like  tinder  on  applying  a lighted  match 
— and  a few  stray  tufts  of  withered  grass,  only  made  more 
desolate  the  hungry  barrenness  of  the  deserts,  over  which 
the  wind  blew  with  cutting  violence,  yet  they  are  the  home 
of  large  herds  of  guanaco,  ostriches,  puma,  and  armadillo, 
though  the  latter  were  at  this  period  comfortably  hyber- 
nating. 

Next  morning  no  horses  were  visible,  and  as  time  went 
on  till  ten  o’clock  without  any  appearance  we  all  began  to 
suspect  Indian  treachery.  Sam  volunteered  the  remark  that 
if  they  (the  Indians)  had  played  us  such  a trick,  he  would 
go  and  clear  all  their  animals  out  the  following  evening. 
This  threat  there  was  fortunately  no  occasion  for  him  to  put 
into  execution,  as  the  troop  proved  only  to  have  strayed  into 
another  valley.  As  we  were  now  nearing  Santa  Cruz,  which 
the  last  of  the  Indians  were  just  leaving,  having  completed 
their  trade  and  finished  all  the  grog,  we  saw  numerous 
columns  of  smoke,  caused  by  their  hunting  parties.  After 
passing  the  broken  ground  and  reaching  the  high  Pampa, 
Sam  and  myself  rode  on  ahead,  amusing  ourselves  by  fruit- 
lessly chasing  guanaco  or  ostrich,  but  Sam’s  dexterity  rvith 
the  bolas  was  frustrated  by  his  being  mounted  on  a horse 
belonging  to  the  expedition  and  unused  to  this  work. 
Towards  evening,  after  again  passing  numerous  salt  lagoons, 
we  came  to  a descent  of  800  or  400  feet  leading  to  a valley 
containing  a large  salina,  and  halting,  made  our  fire  by  the 
side  of  a spring,  near  which,  Sam  informed  me,  were  the 
graves  of  trvo  Indians,  which  he  mentioned  with  the  deepest 
respect  and  in  an  awe-stricken  undertone. 

Our  signal  smoke,  which  was  as  much  to  attract  Indians 
as  to  give  the  direction  of  our  route  to  Gallegos  and  J’aria, 
was  soon  responded  to  from  the  opposite  hills  on  the  northern 


FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


31 


side  of  the  valley,  and  shortly  a line  of  mounted  women  and 
children  descended  the  slope  in  front,  making  for  our  tire, 
which  Sam  informed  me  was  their  intended  camping-place.  We 
advanced  to  meet  them,  and  Sam  conversed  in  their  tongue  ; 
interpreting  to  me  that  they  had  left  Santa  Cruz  two  days 
previously,  and  that  Don  Luiz  P.  B.  had  quitted  his  settle- 
ment on  the  island  to  sail  in  his  schooner  to  Buenos  Ayres  ; 
while  the  Northern  Indians,  encamped  to  the  north  of  Santa 
Cruz,  with  whom  I hoped  to  proceed  to  the  Rio  Negro,  had 
no  intention  of  marching  until  the  ensuing  spring.  On 
leaving  those  ladies,  amongst  whom  was  a young  and  rather 
pretty  girl,  I lifted  my  hat  in  salute,  which  called  forth  a 
burst  of  laughter  from  the  whole  group,  and  cries  of  ‘ Anglish, 
Anglish  ! ’ amidst  which  we  rode  off  to  join  the  remainder  of 
our  party,  who  were  crossing  the  valley  to  the  eastward, 
having  intentionally  deviated  from  the  straight  route  ; and 
although  Sam  used  every  effort  to  induce  Gallegos  to  stop 
at  the  Indian  encampment,  the  latter  wisely  determined 
to  proceed  about  a league  farther,  knowing  that  a halt  here 
would  cause  considerable  inroad  to  be  made  in  the  stock  of 
provisions,  which,  in  view  of  the  return  journey,  with  perhaps 
an  increased  party,  it  was  desirable  to  avoid.  We  accoi’dingly 
left  the  sheltered  valley  and  encamped  on  the  plateau  in  an 
exposed  situation  near  a lagoon,  the  ice  of  which  had  to  be 
broken  to  secure  a supply  of  water.  The  frost  was  keen,  and 
the  tent  afforded  but  a partial  protection  from  the  biting 
wind  ; so  that  the  economical  foresight  of  our  leader  resulted 
in  all  the  party  spending  the  coldest  night  hitherto  ex- 
perienced by  us. 

During  the  evening  we  were  visited  by  several  Indians, 
bringing  presents  of  ostrich  and  guanaco  meat.  I was  pre- 
sented by  the  soldier  with  a piece  of  the  gizzard  (the  tid-bit), 
which  he  had  cooked  on  the  end  of  his  ramrod  ; but  I must 
confess  I did  not  appreciate  it  at  the  time,  though  later  on 
in  my  journey  I learnt  to  relish  this  and  other  strange 
delicacies.  Amongst  the  Indians  who  gave  us  the  benefit  of 


32 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


their  company  this  evening  was  ‘Pedro  el  Platero,’  mentioned 
in  Mr.  Gardener’s  mission  hook ; also  an  old  squaw  rejoicing 
in  the  name  of  ‘La  Reina  Victoria  ’ (Queen  Victoria),  who  was 
the  occasion  of  much  chaff,  my  Chilian  friends  declaring  I 
ought  to  salute  the  sovereign  of  the  Pampas  in  due  form  ; 
hut  having  obtained  a charge  and  a light  for  her  pipe,  all 
she  required,  she  was  soon  lost  sight  of  in  the  dark.  We 
gladly  left  the  camp  early  the  ensuing  morning,  the  cold 
continuing  unabated  ; the  wind  blew  strong  in  our  faces,  and 
though  from  the  northward,  was  so  keen  that  Sam  and  my- 
self kept  galloping  on  and  kindling  fires  at  intervals. 

Thus  we  rode  on  over  a tract  of  country  surpassing  in 
desolation  all  the  districts  hitherto  traversed.  As  far  as  the 
eye  could  reach  stretched  a level  waste  unrelieved  by  even  an 
eminence  or  hollow ; the  aspect  of  the  low  withered  shrubs, 
coarse  parched  grass,  and  occasional  patches  of  pebble-strewn 
ground  which  for  thirty  miles  wearied  the  eye  with  dreary 
sameness,  produced  an  extraordinary  feeling  of  depression, 
which  was  afterwards  recalled  when  journeying  through  the 
Travisia,  bordering  on  the  Rio  Negro,  which  this  district 
resembles,  though  on  a smaller  scale.  Occasional  frozen 
lagoons,  doubtless  supplied  by  rainfall,  only  added  to  the 
desert  aspect  of  this  trackless  wilderness.  The  situation 
was  not  improved  by  Sam  pulling  up  and  remarking  that  h 
was  by  no  means  sure  that  he  had  not  lost  himself.  The 
only  variety  was  afforded  by  an  unlucky  fox  which  we  chased 
till  he  escaped,  as  he  thought,  on  the  ice  of  a lagoon,  but 
the  treacherous  surface  gave  way,  and  poor  Reynard,  after  a 
vigorous  struggle,  sank  out  of  reach  of  a lazo.  At  last, 
about  two  o’clock,  the  desert  terminated  in  a cliff  rising 
from  the  valley  at  our  feet,  and  we  looked  down  upon  the 
winding  river  of  the  Santa  Cruz. 

Having  waited  till  the  rest  came  up,  we  descended  by  a 
gorge  to  the  valley,  when,  after  refreshing  ourselves  by 
a drink  of  water,  we  struck  into  a trail  which  followed  the 
river  downwards.  We  were  all  in  liigh  spirits  at  the  prospect 


FROM  THE  STRAITS  TO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


33 


of  a speedy  and  felicitous  conclusion  to  our  journey ; and 
J’aria  was  continually  questioned  as  to  the  distance  of  the 
settlement.  His  answer  was  invariably  ‘ a league  and  we 
rode  along  vainly  expecting  every  moment  to  see  the  place, 
rounding  innumerable  promontories  or  points  where  the 
barranca  advanced  into  the  valley.  Each  of  these  project- 
ing cliffs,  which  stood  like  outposts  of  the  Pampas,  J’aria 
declared  in  succession  to  be  the  last,  Sam  all  the  while 
maintaining  a dignified  silence,  until  at  length,  at  7.30, 
when  we  had  almost  despaired  of  ever  arriving,  we  came  to 
the  ford  opposite  the  island  of  the  settlement,  and  a barking 
of  dogs  saluted  our  ears.  After  Sam  had  hailed,  an  answer 
came  back,  that  if  we  were  going  across  that  night  we  must 
look  sharp,  as  the  tide  was  flowing.  We  accordingly  pro- 
ceeded to  cross  at  once,  narrowly  escaping  having  to  swim 
our  horses,  which  on  a cold  frosty  night  would  have  been 
anything  but  a pleasant  business. 

My  ideas  as  to  the  size  and  extent  of  the  settlement — and 
it  must  be  confessed  my  visions  of  * cheerer,’  and  even  of 
wine,  to  put  some  warmth  into  my  chilled  frame — were  sadly 
dispelled  by  the  reality ; the  thriving,  though  small,  town  of 
my  imagination  being  represented  by  one  house,  and  all  wine 
and  liquor  proving  to  have  been  exhausted.  But  this  was 
fully  made  up  for  by  discovering  in  Mr.  Clarke — or,  as  the 
Indians  called  him,  ‘ Clakalaka’ — an  old  acquaintance,  whom  I 
had  known  some  years  previously  in  the  Falklands.  His  utter 
surprise  at  the  sudden  appearance  of  one  whom  he  thought 
far  away  may  be  imagined.  But,  to  my  great  delight,  he 
thoroughly  approved  of  the  proposed  excursion.  His  cordial 
welcome  and  hot  coffee  soon  cheered  up  our  spirits,  and  when 
warmed  and  rested  we  discussed  my  plans.  It  appeared  that 
the  Indians  had  not  reported  wrong  as  to  Don  Luiz  Buena’s 
movements  and  the  intentions  of  the  northern  party  ; but 
Mr.  Clarke  believed  that  the  schooner  was  still  detained  in 
the  river  mouth  waiting  for  a fair  wind,  and  undertook  to 
send  off  a messenger  to  communicate  with  him  : my  object 

8 


34 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


being  to  obtain  permission  to  reside  in  the  settlement  until 
the  return  of  the  schooner,  so  as  to  equip  myself  with  stores 
as  presents  for  the  Tehuelches.  After  an  agreeable  ‘ confab,’ 
I turned  in  on  a shakedown  on  the  floor,  well  satisfied  with 
having  accomplished  the  first  stage,  and  deriving  a good 
omen  for  the  remainder  of  the  journey  from  this  successful 
trip  to  Santa  Cruz. 


CHAPTER  II. 


SANTA  CEUZ. 

Introduction  to  Chiefs — Orkeke — Chilian  Deserters — The  Settlement — 
Island  of  Pabon — Natural  Advantages — The  Mission  Station — Mr. 
Clarke — Our  Circle  at  Pabon — Expedition  to  Lake  Viedma — Winter 
Occupations — Work  and  Play — Casimiro’s  Adventures — His  character 
— A Winter  Hunting  Excursion — A Pampa  Snow-storm — The  Santa 
Cruz  Valley — Up  the  River — The  Northern  Hills — Pumas — Devil’s 
Eye — Hunting  on  Foot — Intense  Cold — Return  of  the  Deserters — 
Visit  to  the  Indian  Camp — First  Night  in  a Toldo — Towing  a Horse 
— Adieu  to  Santa  Cruz. 

OUR  first  business  next  day  was  to  despatch  a messenger 
to  board  the  schooner,  if  she  should  prove  to  be  still  in 
the  mouth  of  the  river.  My  Chilian  friends  had  found  some 
of  the  deserters,  who  had  been  taken  into  employment,  and 
subsequently  detained  as  close  prisoners  by  the  major-domo, 
at  the  instance  of  a sergeant  sent  round  from  Punta  Arena  in 
the  schooner,  to  solicit  Don  Luiz’s  assistance  in  their  capture. 
About  noon  Casimiro,  soi-disant  chief  of  the  Tehuelches, 
and  father  of  Sam  Slick,  rode  in  from  a hunting  excursion, 
mounted  on  a tall,  shapely  horse,  and  carrying  a guanaco  on 
his  saddle.  I was  formally  introduced,  and  my  plans  and 
purpose  fully  explained  to  him ; and  soon  after  Orkeke,  the 
cacique  of  the  party  of  Northern  Tehuelches,  encamped  on 
the  Rio  Chico,  arrived.  His  consent  was  necessary  to  enable 
me  to  accompany  them  in  their  journey,  and  by  means  of 
Casimiro  as  an  interpreter,  as  the  chief  spoke  but  little 
Spanish,  my  request  was  preferred.  He  confirmed  the  state- 


86 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


ment  of  Mr.  Clarke,  that  his  people  intended  to  winter  in 
their  present  encampment,  and  then  proceed  northwards  ; 
but  did  not  seem  at  all  disposed  to  welcome  the  addition  of 
an  Englishman  to  his  party,  urging  the  difficult  nature  of  the 
road,  length  of  time,  chances  of  fights,  &c.,  &c.  However, 

I hoped  that  during  the  enforced  delay  opportunities  would 
arise  of  improving  our  acquaintance,  and  obtaining  his  con- 
sent. I was  much  struck  with  the  grave  and  dignified  bear- 
ing of  the  old  chief.  Standing  fully  six  feet,  and  with  a 
well-proportioned  muscular  frame,  no  one  would  have  guessed 
him  to  have  passed  his  sixtieth  year  ; and  whether  vaulting  on 
a bare-backed  steed,  or  leading  the  chase,  he  displayed  an 
agility  and  endurance  equ#l  to  that  of  any  of  the  younger 
men  : his  thick  black  hair  was  slightly  streaked  with  grey  ; 
and  the  bright  intelligent  eyes,  aquiline  nose,  and  thin  firm 
lips  were  very  unlike  the  popular  idea  of  Patagonian  features  ; 
a retreating  forehead  rather  marred  the  expression  of  his 
face,  which  was,  however,  grave  and  thoughtful,  and  at  times 
strikingly  intellectual.  Months  passed  in  his  company  gave 
me  afterwards  ample  opportunity  of  studying  his  powers  of 
reflection,  which  were  great,  and  often  found  expression  in 
pithy  and  amusing  sayings.  Although  particularly  neat  in 
his  dress,  and  cleanly  in  his  habits,  he  was  troubled,  like  all 
the  Indians,  with  vermin ; and  one  night  he  roused  me  up  to 
have  a smoke,  and  after  sitting  for  some  time,  apparently 
lost  in  deep  thought,  he  remarked,  ‘Musters,  lice  never 
sleep  ! ’ He  would  sometimes,  but  rarely,  indulge  in  intoxi- 
cation, but  never  quarrelled,  and  it  was  an  understood  thing 
that  either  he  or  his  brother  Tankelow  should  on  occasions 
of  a general  drinking  bout  remain  sober  to  protect  their 
families.  He  was  himself  childless,  and  had  adopted  a little 
terrier  named  Ako,  which  enjoyed  the  place  and  honours  of 
an  only  child  ; but  he  displayed  great  affection  towards  his 
nephews  and  nieces,  some  one  or  other  of  whom  might  often 
be  seen  in  his  arms  on  a march,  or  after  the  return  from  the 
chase.  During  our  first  acquaintance  I was  most  pleased 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


37 


when,  as  often  happened,  he  joined  our  little  circle,  and  in 
the  company  of  his  old  friend  Mr.  Clarke,  unbent  from  his 
gravity  and  laughed  and  talked  in  a way  that  seemed  quite 
foreign  to  the  usually  serious  chief.  It  must  be  confessed 
that  he  was  jealous  and  suspicious,  and  a little  stingy,  pre- 
ferring to  increase  rather  than  lessen  his  large  stock  of 
horses,  gear,  and  arms  ; but  from  the  time  I became  his 
guest  his  conduct  to  myself  was  irreproachable. 

In  the  evening  the  messenger  returned  ; he  had  of  course 
completely  mistaken  his  instructions,  and  informed  Don  Luiz 
that  the  Englishman  desired  to  proceed  in  the  schooner  to 
Buenos  Ayres,  and  accordingly  a boat  arrived  with  the  morn- 
ing flood-tide  to  take  me  off.  Mr.  Clarke  good-naturedly 
undertook  to  go  himself  and  explain  matters  ; and  returned 
with  a kind  message,  offering  me  quarters  and  every  hospi- 
tality if  I chose  to  remain  in  the  settlement  for  the  next  two 
months,  at  the  end  of  which  period  the  schooner  might  be 
expected  to  return.  Lieut.  Gallegos  strongly  urged  me  to 
accompany  him  back  to  Punta  Arena,  painting  in  strong 
colours  the  tedium  and  discomfort  of  a winter  at  Santa  Cruz. 
But  it  was  plain  that  the  opportunity  of  cultivating  the 
acquaintance  and  securing  the  confidence  of  Orkeke  would 
thus  be  thrown  away,  and  with  it  the  prospect  of  traversing 
the  country.  Gallegos  believed  that  this  plan  was  fraught 
with  danger,  and  indeed  almost  certain  destruction ; but  as 
I was  immovable,  we  took  an  affectionate  farewell  of  each 
other.  He  and  all  his  party  had  treated  me,  an  utter 
stranger,  with  the  greatest  kindness,  and  I bade  adieu  to 
them  as  true  comrades.  They  departed  on  their  return 
journey,  taking  with  them  the  four  prisoners,  who,  however, 
are  destined  to  appear  again  in  these  pages.  These  men  had 
undergone  much  hardship  to  obtain  the  liberty  of  which  they 
seemed  again  deprived  ; three  of  them  had  managed  to  secure 
a horse,  and  walking  and  riding  in  turns  had  found  their 
way  to  the  Indians.  Two  of  them,  Olate  and  Kosa,  the  latter, 
though  a mere  boy,  with  a thoroughly  evil  and  murderous  coun- 


38 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


tenance,  were  incurably  bad  ; but  Mena,  a youth  of  nineteen, 
attracted  one’s  sympathy  by  bis  handsome  frank  face  and 
cleanly  smart  appearance  ; the  fourth,  Arica,  had  made  his 
way  on  foot  from  Punta  Arena  to  Santa  Cruz,  without  any 
knowledge  of  the  country,  and  only  guided  by  a vague  notion 
of  the  existence  of  the  settlement  to  the  north.  He  had  for 
twenty-seven  days  followed  the  line  of  the  sea-coast,  subsist- 
ing on  shell-fish  and  sea-birds’  eggs  ; the  toil  and  hardships 
thus  undergone  must  have  been  indescribable,  and  his  eventual 
safe  arrival  was  a miracle  of  patient  endurance.  He  brought 
in  news  of  the  loss  of  a tender  to  the  schooner,  a decked 
launch,  in  which  Captain  Warren  and  three  men  had  sailed 
from  Staten  Land  and  been  no  more  heard  of ; of  their  fate 
there  was  now  little  doubt,  as  he  had  found  her  dingy  cast  up 
on  the  beach,  and  a piece  of  the  mainsail  out  of  which  he  had 
supplied  himself  with  clothes. 

The  promising  eleve  of  the  mission,  Sam  Slick,  also  accom- 
panied the  party.  Before  his  departure  he  offered  to  give  a 
specimen  of  his  education  by  singing  a hymn,  with  a broad 
hint  that  grog  was  a fitting  accompaniment ; but  as  none 
was  forthcoming,  we  lost  the  chance  of  being  edified  by  his 
performance. 

We  watched  the  cavalcade  till  it  disappeared  in  the  dis- 
tance on  the  upper  plains,  and  then  returned  to  the  station, 
where  I settled  myself  to  pass  the  ensuing  three  months  of 
the  Patagonian  winter.  The  settlement  or  trading  station 
of  Santa  Cruz  consists  of  only  three  houses,  built  on  an 
island  called  ‘Pabon,’  marked  as  Middle  Island,  in  Islet 
Reach,  in  Fitzroy’s  chart.  It  is  owned  by  Don  Luiz  P. 
Buena,  who  holds  by  virtue  of  a grant  from  the  Argentine 
Government,  which  has  also  conferred  on  him  the  commission 
of  captain  in  the  navy,  with  power  to  prevent  all  foreign 
sealers  from  trespassing  on  the  valuable  seal  fisheries  on  the 
coast.  The  island  is  about  a mile  and  a half  long,  and  has 
an  average  breadth  of  some  350  yards.  Access  is  obtained 
from  the  south  shore  by  a ford,  about  fifty  yards  across,  only 


STATION  ON  PABON  ISLAND,  RIO  SANTA  CRUZ. 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


39 


passable  at  low  water.  The  northern  channel  is  wider  and 
deeper,  and  the  swiftness  of  the  current  renders  it  impassable 
save  by  a boat,  which  is  moored  ready  to  ferry  over  Indians 
desirous  of  trading,  and  is  also  useful  for  bringing  wood  for 
fuel,  which  is  not  obtainable  on  the  island.  About  a hundred 
yards  from  the  ford  stands  the  principal  house,  substantially 
built  of  bricks,  with  tiled  roof,  containing  three  rooms,  and 
a sort  of  porch  to  shelter  a nine-pounder,  commanding  the 
entrance.  It  is  further  defended  by  a stockade,  over  which 
floats  the  Argentine  flag,  and  beyond  it  a fosse,  which  is 
filled  with  water  by  the  spring  tides.  The  object  of  these 
fortifications  is  to  afford  protection  in  the  case  of  the  Indians 
proving  troublesome  when  under  the  influence  of  rum. 
Though  Mr.  Clarke  narrated  some  queer  scenes  he  had  wit- 
nessed, his  excellent  management  had  hitherto  obviated  any 
danger,  and  the  fairness  of  his  dealings  with  them  had 
secured  their  friendship,  a regular  tariff  with  equitable  prices 
having  been  fixed,  and  scrupulously  adhered  to,  by  which 
their  barter  of  ostrich  feathers  and  peltries  was  regulated ; 
and  although  they  are  keen  bargainers,  often  spending  two 
or  three  hours  in  debating  the  price  to  be  given,  they  appre- 
ciated the  fairness  with  which  they  were  treated.  A second 
house  was  situated  about  fifty  yards  off,  and  being  generally 
used  as  a store,  bore  the  name  of  the  Almacen  : at  this  time 
being  empty,  one  room  served  as  a sleeping-place  for  some 
of  the  men,  and  the  other  had  been  given  up  for  the  accom- 
modation of  Casimiro  and  his  family.  A third  house,  which 
stood  at  the  eastern  end  of  the  island,  was  unoccupied. 
Near  it  a small  plot  had  been  tilled,  and  potatoes,  turnips, 
and  other  vegetables,  had  been  successfully  raised.  At  the 
time  of  my  visit  no  corn  had  been  tried,  but  a subsequent 
experimental  sowing  of  one  and  a half  fanegas*  gave  a field, 
though  little  pains  were  bestowed  on  the  crop,  of  twenty 
fanegas.  As  the  lower  part  of  the  island  is  liable  to  be 
overflowed  at  high  springs,  a ditch  had  been  cut  across  to 
* A fanega  contains  100  lb. 


40 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


drain  off  the  water,  and  there  was  consequently  no  lack  of 
irrigation.  The  ground  was  covered  with  stunted  bushes, 
and  the  small  spike-thorn  round  thistle,  and  coarse  grass. 
The  few  sheep  appeared  to  thrive  well,  but  decreased  very 
sensibly  in  number  during  the  winter,  as  on  days  when 
game  was  scarce  one  fell  a victim  to  the  ravenous  appetite 
engendered  by  the  keen  air  of  Patagonia.  A numerous 
troop  of  horses  grazed  on  the  mainland,  in  a tract  below 
the  Southern  Barranca,  called  the  ‘ Potrero,’  where  the 
grass,  though  coarse,  grew  in  rank  luxuriance.  When 
wanted  for  hunting,  the  entire  stud  was  brought  across 
the  river  in  the  morning  and  driven  into  the  corral ; but 
ordinarily  one  alone  was  kept  on  the  island  ready  for 
emergencies. 

It  should  be  mentioned  that  a small  stock  of  cattle,  and 
also  some  pigs,  had  been  imported ; these,  however,  being 
necessarily  left  to  graze  on  the  mainland,  had  wandered,  and 
become  wild ; the  cattle  probably  falling  victims  to  the 
Indian  hunters  ; but  the  pigs  will  no  doubt  multiply,  and 
become  the  founders  of  a race  of  hogs,  destined  hereafter  to 
add  pig-sticking  to  the  amusements  of  the  future  settlers  or 
of  the  wandering  Tehuelches. 

Above  the  island  of  Pabon  there  are  several  smaller  islets, 
but  as  they  are  liable  to  be  overflowed  by  the  highest  tides, 
they  cannot,  without  artificial  drainage,  be  made  available 
for  tillage.  From  one  which  had  been  occupied  and  tilled 
with  root-crops,  we  obtained  a quantity  of  well-grown 
turnips.  It  was  a singular  mistake  of  the  Spaniards  to  form 
a settlement  at  Port  St.  Julian  and  overlook  the  far  superior 
advantages  presented  by  Santa  Cruz.  The  plains  and  islands 
of  the  latter  present  good  grazing  grounds  and  tillage  lands, 
as  well  as  a site  for  a town  secure  from  sudden  Indian  sur- 
prises ; and  as  regards  fitness  for  a shipping  station,  there  is 
no  comparison  between  the  two  localities,  as  ships  can  be 
beached  at  Santa  Cruz  in  a sheltered  place  with  the  flood- 
tide  ; while  the  timber,  in  search  of  which  Yiedma  made  his 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


41 


expedition,  was  to  be  had  in  abundance  by  ascending  the 
river.  At  the  present  time  the  knowledge  of  the  navigation 
of  the  Straits  would  make  it  much  easier  and  cheaper  to  import 
timber  from  Punta  Arena  than  to  send  lumberers  into  the 
Cordillera  and  raft  the  timber  down  to  Santa  Cruz. 

Near  the  Potrero,  on  the  southern  shore,  there  is  a natural 
salt  lake  or  salina,  which  must  have  been  overlooked  by  the 
Beagle  expedition,  as  Mr.  Darwin  fixes  the  southern  limits 
of  salinas  at  Port  St.  Julian.  In  the  summer,  and  until 
the  winter  rains  and  snow  set  in,  an  inexhaustible  supply  of 
excellent  salt  can  be  obtained.  It  is  at  present  worked  only 
to  furnish,  besides  the  salt  for  home  use,  what  is  required  for 
the  annual  sealing  fishery  ; but  if  labour  were  more  abundant, 
the  salt  would  be  found  to  be  a valuable  article  of  export  to 
the  Falkland  Islands  ; the  salina  being  situated  less  than  half 
a mile  from  the  beach,  where  there  is  good  anchorage. 

The  river  also  yields  abundant  supplies  of  fish — a species 
of  bass  and  others — which  when  cured  keep  well : some 
which  had  been  cured  over  a year  proved  excellent.  These 
might  be  profitably  exported  to  Rio  Janeiro,  &c.,  where 
cured  fish  are  always  in  demand. 

Notwithstanding  these  natural  advantages,  Santa  Cruz 
could  hardly  at  this  period  be  considered  a settlement.  Sub- 
sequently to  my  visit,  two  Frenchmen  from  Buenos  Ayres 
proposed  to  try  sheep  farming  in  the  valley,  but  with  what 
result  I have  not  heard.  As  already  mentioned,  the  station 
existed  as  a depot  for  sealing,  and  as  a trading  post,  to  which 
the  Tehuelches  resorted  to  exchange  then’  ostrich  feathers, 
and  puma,  guanaco,  and  ostrich  skins,  for  tobacco,  sugar, 
ammunition,  and  above  all,  rum.  There  was  little  or  no 
trade  going  on  during  the  absence  of  the  schooner,  as  all  the 
stores  had  been  exhausted  ; but  after  the  summer  campaign 
some  of  the  Tehuelches  invariably  resort  thither,  and  the 
vicinity  has  always  been  a favourite  winter  quarters.  The 
missionaries,  Messrs.  Schmid  and  Hart,  endeavoured  to  avail 
themselves  of  this  opportunity  for  essaying  the  conversion 


42 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


and  civilisation  of  the  Indians.  They  resided  for  some  time 
in  1863  at  a spot  near  Weddell  Bluff,  about  ten  miles  from 
the  mouth  of  the  river.  To  quote  Mr.  Sterling’s  description, 
the  station  was  at  the  mouth  of  the  valley  which  ‘ retreats 
towards  the  south-west  for  a considerable  distance  inland ; a 
stream  of  pure  water  flows  perennially  through  it,  and  a 
broad  belt  of  grass,  offering  fine  pasture  for  cattle,  gives  a 
cheerful,  fertile  aspect  to  the  low  land  ; the  hills  on  either 
side  are  intersected  with  ravines,  or  lift  up  their  bronzed 
faces  out  of  some  intervening  dale,  and  refresh  the  air  with 
the  aroma  of  shrubs  and  plants  growing  everywhere  about 
them.’ 

This  was  written  after  a visit  in  the  summer  month  of 
January,  and  the  picture  drawn  presents  the  landscape  in  its 
fairest  colours ; very  different  from  its  bleak  aspect  as  viewed 
by  myself  in  the  winter.  This  valley  still  bears  the  name  of 
Los  Misionarios,  but  this  is  the  only  existing  trace  of  their 
settlement.  Mr.  Schmid,  however,  during  his  sojourn  and 
journeys  with  a party  of  the  Indians,  compiled  a vocabulary 
of  the  Tsoneca  language,  as  spoken  by  the  southern  Tehuel- 
ches.  Their  plan  for  establishing  trade  at  Santa  Cruz,  in 
order  to  secure  the  regular  visits  of  the  Indians,  was  not 
approved  of  by  the  managers  of  the  mission,  and  they  were 
obliged  to  abandon  the  scene  of  their  praiseworthy  but  un- 
successful efforts — to  instruct  at  least  ‘ the  little  bright-faced 
Patagonian  children,’  of  whom  they  speak  in  their  journals 
with  warm  affection. 

The  counter  attractions  of  rum  supplied  by  a trader  who 
visited  the  river  were  felt  by  Mr.  Schmid  to  be  very  de- 
structive of  his  influence,  but  it  cannot  be  doubted  that  their 
store,  if  established,  would  have  had  no  chance  against  any 
rival  that  supplied  rum  to  his  customers ; for  though  there 
are  many  exceptions,  the  Indians  too  eagerly  expend  the 
spoils  of  their  hunting  and  industry  in  liquor.  Their  wives, 
however,  when  they  accompany  them,  take  care  to  manage 
their  business  with  discretion,  and  reserve  sufficient  stock 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


43 


to  barter  for  more  useful  and  innocent  luxuries  as  well  as 
necessaries.  There  is  no  doubt  that  in  the  event  of  the 
future  development  of  this  settlement,  it  might  serve  as  a 
'point  d’appui  to  raise  the  Tehuelches  to  the  level  of  a more 
cultivated  and  settled  mode  of  existence  ; but  speculations  on 
this  point  are  not  within  my  province,  and  it  is  time  to 
introduce  the  members  of  the  party  with  whom  my  winter 
was  agreeably  spent  on  the  island  of  Pabon.  With  Don 
Luiz  P.  Buena  and  his  amiable  and  accomplished  sehora  I 
subsequently  made  acquaintance,  which  ripened  into  friend- 
ship ; but  though  his  guest,  I was  at  present  personally 
unknown  to  him.  In  his  absence,  his  representative,  Mr. 
Clarke,  who,  as  already  mentioned,  was  an  old  acquaintance, 
did  all  he  could  to  make  me  feel  at  home.  He  was  a hand- 
some young  fellow  of  twenty-five,  and  an  excellent  specimen 
of  the  versatile  and  cosmopolitan  New  Englander  ‘ raised’ 
in  Salem,  Massachusetts,  where  he  had  been  brought  up  as  a 
builder,  though  he  afterwards  ‘ shipped  himself  on  board  of 
a ship.’  In  his  nautical  life  he  had  been  mate  of  the  Snow 
Squall,  in  a homeward  voyage  from  Shanghai,  when  she  was 
chased  off  the  Cape  of  Good  Hope  by  the  Alabama,  and 
but  for  the  pluck  of  the  captain  and  crew,  and  the  wonderful 
sailing  powers  of  the  craft,  another  item  would  have  been 
added  to  Mr.  Adams’s  ‘ little  bill.’  As  it  was,  the  beautiful 
vessel  fairly  outsailed  the  swift  steamer.  The  steadiness  of 
the  crew,  and  their  well-deserved  attachment  to  the  captain, 
were  most  strongly  proved  on  this  occasion.  As  there  was 
no  alternative  between  putting  in  for  water  at  St.  Helena — 
where  it  was  too  probable  the  Alabama  would  pounce  upon 
the  prize — and  running  home  upon  half  a pint  per  diem 
each  man,  the  captain  left  it  to  the  crew  to  decide,  and  they 
chose  the  latter  course. 

Mr.  Clarke  had  spent  three  months  travelling  and  hunting 
in  company  with  the  Tehuelches,  which  had  made  him  a 
most  expert  hand  with  lazo  or  holas,  and  well  acquainted 
with  the  Indian  character ; and  it  was  pleasant  to  hear  that 


44 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


he  entertained  a very  high  opinion  of  their  intelligence  and 
generous  dispositions.  He  treated  them  with  fairness  and 
considerate  kindness,  and  they  repaid  him  by  confidence  and 
friendship. 

Five  other  employes  made  up  the  rest  of  our  party.  No 
social  distinctions,  however,  prevailed,  and  the  inhabitants 
of  Pabon  lived  in  pleasant  equality.  The  charge  of  the  dogs 
and  horses,  and  the  duty  of  supplying  meat,  devolved  on 
two  : Gonzalez,  a goucha,  a native  of  Patagones,  who  was 
as  much  at  home  in  the  schooner  on  a sealing  excursion,  as 
in  the  saddle  balling  an  ostrich  ; and  Juan  Isidoro,  a swarthy 
little  man  whose  sparkling  black  eyes  told  of  his  Indian 
blood,  a native  of  Santiago  del  Estero ; he  had  been  sent  as 
a soldier  to  Rio  Negro,  whence  he  had  managed  to  desert, 
and  make  his  way  with  Orkeke’s  Indians  to  the  settlement. 
Next  comes  Juan  Chileno,  a bright,  fresh-complexioned 
youth  of  nineteen  years,  to  look  at  whom  was  refreshing, 
after  the  swarthy  and  weather-beaten  physiognomies  of  the 
others.  Then  Antonio,  a Portuguese,  by  turns  gaueho, 
whaler,  or  sealer,  always  ready  with  a song  or  a merry  jest, 
and  on  occasion  equally  quick  with  his  knife.  Holstein 
furnished  the  last,  but  by  no  means  least  important ; a 
strong-built,  good-natured,  rather  stupid  fellow,  generally 
selected  as  the  butt  of  the  rest,  who  always  styled  him  ‘ El 
Cooke,’  a sobriquet  earned  by  his  many  voyages  in  that 
capacity  on  board  various  ships.  Curiously  enough,  he 
proved  to  possess  information  on  a topic  to  me  of  great 
interest,  as  he  had  been  one  of  a party  which,  about  a year 
previous  to  my  visit,  had  ascended  the  river  Santa  Cruz  to 
its  source.  The  expedition  was  organised  by  an  American 
well  acquainted  with  the  Californian  mining,  who  proposed 
to  explore  the  mineral  resources  of  the  valley.  Unfortu- 
nately, during  the  ascent  of  the  river,  a quarrel  broke  out, 
and  the  American  left  the  others,  and  found  his  way  alone 
to  the  Indians,  thence  returning  to  Santa  Cruz.  The  loss  of 
the  only  man  capable  of  scientific  observation  rendered  their 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


45 


journey  almost  useless ; still  the  party  proceeded,  and  about 
midsummer  reached  the  lake,  near  which  they  remained 
some  days,  hut  were  unable  to  penetrate  the  thick  forests 
beyond  its  shores.  In  the  valley  they  found  meat  tins  and 
other  traces  of  Fitzroy’s  expedition.  El  Cooke  described 
the  river  as  running  from  the  lake  in  many  small  streams, 
and  flowing  over  a rocky  bed.  The  lake,  which  was  covered 
with  wild  fowl,  had  floating  ice  upon  it,  and  large  glaciers 
were  visible  in  the  neighbouring  mountains,  while  the  weather 
experienced  was  cold,  with  continuous  drizzling  rain.  His 
account  confirmed  my  own  conjectures  as  to  the  cause  of  the 
great  difference  between  the  periods  of  the  highest  floods  in 
the  Rio  Gallegos,  which  is  at  its  height  in  December  and 
January,  and  the  Santa  Cruz,  which  is  then  at  its  lowest. 
This  is  owing  to  the  lateness  of  the  period  at  which  the  ice 
breaks  up  in  the  lake  Viedma,  situated,  as  it  probably  is,  on 
a high  plateau.  About  the  lake  the  explorers  found  traces  of 
herds  of  large  deer,  and  always  in  close  proximity  those  of 
a large  fox  or  wolf,  but  they  did  not  succeed  in  killing  any. 
A specimen  of  the  only  mineral  brought  back  appeared  to  be 
iron  pyrites  embedded  in  quartz.  The  journey  from  the  lake 
to  the  settlement  would  require  eleven  days  for  baggage 
horses,  but  could  be  performed  by  horsemen  within  four.  Of 
course  the  information  was  not  too  clear  or  reliable,  but  El 
Cooke,  though  not  brilliant,  seemed  to  possess  the  Northern 
quality  of  telling  the  truth,  by  the  absence  of  which  the 
Southern  and  Indian  natures  are,  to  say  the  least  of  it,  often 
characterised.  El  Cooke  was  fond  of  hard  work,  and  his 
greatest  enjoyment  was  to  set  out  in  search  of  fuel,  and  lay 
on  with  his  axe  in  a way  that  would  have  done  honour  to  a 
Canadian  lumberer,  but  was  sadly  thrown  away  on  the  in- 
cense bushes  of  Santa  Cruz. 

All  these  men,  who  had  drifted  together  from  various 
quarters,  and,  if  truth  be  told,  had  all  ‘run,’  for  obvious 
reasons,  from  their  own  homes,  worked  by  turns  at  hunting, 
trading,  sealing,  and  raising  salt  from  the  Salina.  They 


46 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


received  a fixed  salary,  which,  however,  generally  proved  to 
be  balanced  by  an  account  with  the  store  for  clothes,  &c.  In 
sealing  expeditions  all  went  shares,  like  our  own  mackerel 
and  herring  fishermen ; while  for  working  at  the  Salina, 
extra  pay  was  given  and  well  earned,  especially  at  this  time, 
since  it  involved  sleeping  out  in  the  open  for  several  suc- 
cessive nights,  and  that  in  a Patagonian  May.  Such  were 
the  companions  of  my  residence  at  Pabon,  besides  whom 
more  than  a score  of  dogs  of  all  sorts  slept  anyhow  and 
anywhere,  and  followed  anybody,  giving  their  masters  the 
preference. 

A short  time  after  our  arrival,  Mr.  Clarke  took  stock  of  the 
stores  of  provision,  which  could  not  be  replenished  until  the 
return  of  the  schooner.  The  result  was  that  the  amount  of 
biscuits  and  sugar  was  found  to  be  about  equal  to  a month’s 
consumption.  These  articles  were  accordingly  divided  into 
equal  portions,  and  each  man  received  his  share,  to  husband 
or  improvidently  use,  according  to  his  bent.  There  was 
abundance  of  coffee,  black  beans,  tobacco,  and  maize,  which 
accordingly  were  used  at  discretion.  The  next  thing  was  to 
accumulate  a good  stock  of  fuel  before  the  snow  should  render 
it  difficult,  if  not  impossible,  to  transport  it. 

Every  Sunday  all  hands  except  one — the  cook  of  the  week 
• — left  on  guard,  went  hunting,  and,  as  occasion  required, 
during  the  week,  the  gauchos  would  proceed  to  supply  the 
larder  with  gaunaco  or  ostrich,  the  latter  being,  however, 
rare.  Idleness  was  unknown ; when  not  hunting,  wood- 
cutting, or  salt-raising,  manufactures  were  the  order  of  the 
day.  We  picked  stones  and  worked  them  round  for  bolas, 
and  covered  them  with  the  hide  stripped  from  the  hock  of 
the  guanaco,  the  soga  or  thong  connecting  the  balls  being 
made  from  the  skin  of  the  neck,  the  method  of  obtaining  it 
being  as  follows.  The  head  having  been  cut  off,  and  an 
incision  made  just  above  the  shoulder,  the  skin  is  dragged 
off  ino  ne  piece  ; and  after  the  wool  has  been  picked  off,  is 
softened  by  hand  and  carefully  cut  into  strips,  which  are  closely 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


47 


plaited.  Of  this  leather  we  also  make  serviceable  bridles, 
lazos,  stirrup-leathers,  and,  in  fact,  horse-gear  generally. 
Sometimes  we  would  have  a fit  of  making  pipes,  and  all 
hands  would  be  busy  sawing  out  wood  or  hard  at  work  boring 
the  bowls ; at  others,  spurs  were  the  rage,  made  by  the 
simple  Indian  method  of  sticking  sharpened  nails  into  two 
pieces  of  wood,  secured  together  by  thongs  fastened  under 
the  foot  and  round  the  leg ; or  again,  we  would  work  silver, 
and  come  out  with  our  knife- sheaths  glittering  with  studs. 
On  non-hunting  days,  I invariably  practised  the  use  of  the 
bolas,  and  caught  almost  every  shrub  on  the  island. 

The  evenings  were  passed  in  playing  the  American  game 
of  brag.  Cash  being  unknown,  and  no  one  being  disposed 
to  risk  the  loss  of  his  gear,  the  stakes  were  simply  so  many 
black  beans  to  a box  of  matches  ; and  as  much  excitement 
prevailed  as  if  each  bean  or  perota  had  been  a five-dollar 
piece. 

Both  in  our  hunting  parties  and  in  the  house  which  he 
had  been  allowed  to  occupy,  though  he  occasionally  visited 
the  camp  on  the  Chico,  I sedulously  cultivated  the  acquaint- 
ance of  Casimiro.  Both  the  missionaries  and  Her  Majesty’s 
surveyors  have  made  frequent,  and  often  by  no  means 
honourable,  mention  of  this  Indian,  who  has  always  evinced 
a wish  to  conciliate  the  friendship  of  the  English  visitors  to 
Patagonia.  His  history,  as  I learned  it  from  himself,  was  a 
very  curious  one,  and  aptly  illustrates  the  conflicting  claims 
of  Chilians  and  Argentines,  and  the  confused  politics  of  the 
Indians  themselves,  his  father  having  been  killed  in  an 
engagement  with  the  Araucanian  or  Manzaneros  Indians. 
His  mother  was  a Tehuelche  ; being  an  inveterate  drunkard, 
whilst  visiting  the  settlements  of  Kio  Negro  she  bartered  the 
child  for  a cask  of  rum  to  the  governor  of  the  fort,  a French- 
man named  Yiba,  who  was  connected  with  the  slave-trade, 
for  at  that  period  Indians  seem  to  have  been  made  slaves  of 
as  well  as  blacks.  Yiba  had  Casimiro  christened — whence 
his  name  Casimiro  Yiba — and  brought  up  at  the  Estancia,  or 


48 


AT  HOME  WITE  TEE  PATAGONIANS. 


sheep-farm,  where  he  learnt  to  speak  Spanish  fluently. 
When  thirteen  years  old  he  ran  away  and  rejoined  the 
Tehuelches  Indians,  with  whom  he  remained  in  obscurity  for 
some  years,  until  being  in  the  Southern  district,  near  the 
Chilian  colony  of  Port  Famine,  he  gained  the  friendship  of 
one  Santorin,  a native  of  Patagones,  who  had  been  taken 
captive  by  the  Indians,  hut  having  adopted  their  manners 
and  customs,  and  marrying  one  of  the  tribe,  had  risen  to  the 
position  of  a chief.  Together  these  two  performed  a voyage 
to  Chili,  to  negotiate  with  the  Government  in  some  matters 
regarding  the  protection  of  Port  Famine  from  Indian  raids. 
Santorin  died  during  the  voyage,  but  Casimiro  was  well 
received  at  Santiago  by  the  then  President,  Sehor  Bulnes,* 
loaded  with  honours,  and  given  the  rank,  pay,  and  rations  of 
a captain  in  the  army.  He  then  returned  to  Port  Famine, 
where  he  resided,  off  and  on,  for  some  time.  By  his  own 
account,  he  was  absent  on  a hunting  excursion  when  the 
enieute  took  place  which  resulted  in  the  destruction  of  the 
colony.  The  old  wandering  habits  appeared  to  have  taken 
possession  of  him,  for  he  subsequently  returned  to  the  Bio 
Negro,  and  having  entered  the  service  of  the  Buenos  Ayrean 
Government,  again  proceeded  to  the  South.  During  this 
time  he  resided  occasionally  with  the  missionaries,  during 
their  journey  to  the  South,  and  at  their  station  at  Santa  Cruz, 
and  entrusted  to  them  his  two  sons  for  the  purpose  of  educa- 
tion. The  missionaries  soon  discovered  that  his  objects 
were  purely  selfish,  and  that  he  had  no  idea  of  allowing 
others  to  participate  in  the  advantages  they  could  offer ; and 
I am  afraid  that  the  labour  and  cost  bestowed  on  the  boys 
were  thrown  away,  as  neither  of  them  appeared  to  have  pro- 
fited much  by  their  chances.  Sam,  indeed,  could  still  sing  a 
hymn  if  there  were  grog  to  the  fore,  and  had  a lively  recol- 
lection of  material  advantages,  often  saying,  ‘ He  was  good 
man,  give  me  gun,’  &c.  But  the  youngest  ‘ Graviel,’  who 
also  understood  a little  English,  was  one  of  the  laziest  of  the 
* Casimiro  gave  the  name  as  ‘ Bourne.’ 


SANTA  CRUZ.  49 

lazy,  and  had  very  undefined  notions  as  to  meum  and  tuuni, 
as  personal  experience  taught  me. 

In  1865  Casimiro  made  a voyage  to  Buenos  Ayres,  where 
the  Government  on  this  occasion  recognised  liim  as  head 
chief  of  the  Tehuelches,  and  assigned  him  the  rank  and  pay 
of  lieutenant-colonel  in  the  Argentine  army.  He  was  then 
despatched,  in  company  with  an  Argentine  named  Mendoza, 
to  form  a settlement  at  Gregorio  Bay.  They  travelled  by 
land  as  far  as  Santa  Cruz  at  which  place  Mendoza  dis- 
appeared, being  supposed  to  have  lost  himself,  but  in  reality 
having  been  killed  by  an  Indian,  jealousy  being,  I believe, 
the  cause  of  the  murder.  With  his  right-hand  man  gone, 
Casimiro  abandoned  himself,  to  drinking,  a habit  which,  as 
Mr.  Cunningham  mentions,  he  had  before  acquired — perhaps 
by  hereditary  development — and  ultimately  became  reduced 
to  the  state  of  poverty  in  which  I found  him,  owning  but 
two  horses  for  himself,  his  wife,  daughter,  and  sou,  with 
hardly  any  gear.  Indeed,  he  would  have  been  reduced  to 
great  straits  but  for  the  kindness  of  Don  Luiz  and  Mr. 
Clarke,  who,  for  old  acquaintance  sake,  helped  him  as  much 
as  possible  ; though  his  habitual  drunkenness  made  it  useless 
to  give  him  anything  valuable  whilst  there  was  liquor  to  he 
had,  as  he  would  exchange  anything  for  drink.  As  it  was 
my  object  to  have  a friend  in  camp,  I made  friends  with 
him,  and  tried  to  induce  him  to  go  north  to  the  Rio  Negro, 
which  he  at  length  agreed  to  do,  although  he  was  in  great 
fear  of  getting  into  trouble  about  the  loss  or  death  of 
Mendoza.  This  man  when  sober  was  quick  and  intelligent, 
and  a shrewTd  politician.  His  extensive  connections  by 
marriage  with  all  the  chiefs,  including  Rouke  and  Calficura, 
gave  him  considerable  influence.  He  was  also  an  expert 
worker  in  various  Indian  arts,  such  as  making  saddles,  pipes, 
spurs,  lazos,  and  other  gear.  He  was  a powerfully  built 
man,  standing  fully  six  feet  in  his  potro  hoots,  with  a not 
unpleasing  expression  of  face,  although  he  had  a scar  or 
two  which  did  not  add  to  his  beauty.  Of  his  personal 

4 


50 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


bravery  ample  proof  will  afterwards  be  given ; but,  like  all 
drunkards,  he  was  uncertain  and  not  to  be  depended  on. 
This  veritable  old  Blue  Beard  informed  me  that  he  bad 
been  married  six  times  ; certainly,  if  all  his  wives  were  of 
the  appearance  and  disposition  of  his  last  venture,  it  is  not 
to  be  wondered  at  if  he  disposed  of  the  former  ones  ; for  an 
uglier,  dirtier,  more  contumacious  old  hag  had  never  burdened 
the  earth  with  her  weight,  owing  probably  to  which  latter 
quality,  or  quantity,  she  never,  if  she  could  possibly  help  it, 
quitted  her  room.  Early  in  June,  an  Indian,  known  in 
Santa  Cruz  as  El  Sourdo,  or  the  left-handed  man,  came 
across  the  river  and  pitched  his  toldo  on  the  island.  He 
was  the  husband  of  two  wives,  who  lived  together  in  perfect 
felicity  and  took  care  of  one  another’s  children.  This  Indian 
was,  as  most  of  them  are,  very  ingenious  in  working  wood 
and  silver,  and  was  a good  addition  to  our  hunting  parties ; 
he  also  quickly  learned  to  play  at  brag.  Casimiro  would 
never  descend  from  his  lofty  pinnacle  of  self-importance  so 
far  as  to  enter  the  kitchen  when  the  general  revels  were 
held,  but  occasionally  joined  Mr.  Clarke  and  myself  at  supper 
and  sat  telling  stories  for  an  hour  or  two. 

The  sketch  of  our  life  at  Pabon  would  be  very  incomplete 
without  asking  the  reader  to  accompany  us  on  a hunting 
excursion  ; so  I will  describe  one  which  took  place  after 
El  Sourdo  had  arrived  on  the  island.  Game  had  become 
very  scarce  in  our  immediate  vicinity,  and  our  only  farina- 
ceous food  was  black  beans  varied  by  maize,  which  was  too 
troublesome  in  the  preparation  to  be  much  used.  The  meat 
went  wonderfully  quickly,  so  we  determined  to  extend  the 
sphere  of  the  hunting  a little  more  afield.  Accordingly,  one 
fine  frosty  morning  at  daylight,  the  horses  were  brought  up, 
caught,  and  saddled,  mantles  and  spurs  donned,  and  eight  of 
us,  including  the  two  Indians,  Casimiro  and  El  Sourdo,  setoff 
to  make  a circle,  i.e.,  enclose  and  drive  an  area  of  land  on 
the  southern  shore  of  the  river,  finishing  at  the  Missionaries’ 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


51 


Valley.  Casimiro  and  Gonzalez  accordingly  started,  and  the 
remainder  followed  in  turn.  During  our  drive  down,  one 
guanaco  was  captured  by  El  Sourdo  and  Isidoro,  and  on 
our  arrival  near  the  valley  of  Los  Misionarios  I chased  a 
guanaco,  but,  being  without  dogs  and  a tyro  with  the  bolas, 
failed  to  capture  him.  However,  on  rejoining  my  com- 
panions, who  had  now  finished  the  circle,  I found  that  they 
had  only  killed  one  ostrich,  which,  through  the  carelessness 
of  some  of  the  party,  the  dogs  had  mauled  to  such  an  extent 
as  to  render  the  greater  part  of  the  meat  unserviceable. 
The  day  had  been  unusually  warm,  without  any  wind. 
Though  a bank  of  white  clouds  on  the  horizon  seemed  to 
threaten  snow,  it  was  agreed  to  camp  out  and  try  our  chance 
of  getting  a supply  of  meat  on  the  following  day ; so  we 
proceeded  to  a sheltered  place  in  the  valley,  and  bivouacked 
under  the  lee  of  a big  incense  bush,  while  the  horses  were 
turned  loose,  and  a fire  was  made,  on  w'hich  the  remains  of  the 
ostrich  were  soon  cooking  under  the  master  hand  of  Casimiro. 
After  supper,  which  was  rather  stinted  in  quantity,  we 
smoked  a pipe  and  lay  down  to  sleep.  About  three  I woke 
up,  feeling,  as  I thought,  a heavy  weight  pressing  on  my 
mantle,  and  found  that  about  two  inches  of  snow  had  fallen, 
and  that  it  was  still  snowing.  At  daylight  it  came  on  to 
rain,  but  quickly  changed  to  snow  again  ; so  we  made  a fire 
and  waited  for  an  hour  to  see  if  the  weather  would  clear. 
At  last,  on  a gleam  of  sickly  sunshine  appearing,  we  pro- 
ceeded to  arrange  the  circle,  Casimiro  starting  first.  Emerging 
from  the  valley  and  ascending  to  the  high  pampa,  we  met  a 
terrific  gale  of  wind  from  the  south,  driving  before  it  small 
snow  in  freezing  blasts  ; but  two  ostriches  jumped  up  from 
behind  a bush,  and  Mr.  Clarke  balled  one  of  them  with  great 
dexterity.  This  was  very  cheering,  as  we  were  all  very 
hungry.  But,  as  it  was  impossible  to  face  the  driving  sleet 
and  wind,  which  prevented  us  from  seeing  ten  yards  before 
us,  we  adjourned  to  the  valley,  leaving  Casimiro,  who  was 
not  visible,  to  his  own  pursuits.  Suddenly  El  Sourdo 


52 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


discovered  smoke  behind  a clump  of  trees,  and,  to  our 
great  delight,  there  was  our  friend  before  a good  fire,  nicely 
sheltered  from  snow  and  wind,  within  an  arbour  neatly  cut 
out  of  a bush.  We  adjourned  to  the  fire  and  had  breakfast ; 
invigorated  by  which,  and  encouraged  by  a lull  in  the  storm, 
we  started  off  to  renew  the  chase,  but  soon  got  separated  by 
the  thick  snow-storm.  Mr.  Clarke,  El  Sourdo,  Gonzalez, 
and  myself,  who  were  together,  came  close  upon  a herd  of 
guanace,  making  for  the  coast  to  escape  the  gale.  The  dogs 
gave  chase  and  killed  some,  others  were  balled ; in  fact  a 
regular  slaughter  took  place,  and  eight  or  ten  carcases  were 
soon  lying  on  the  plain.  Now  came  the  tedious  joh  of 
cutting  up.  I found  myself  standing  alone  by  a dead 
guanaco,  none  of  the  others  being  visible,  though  not 
fifty  yards  distant.  I proceeded  as  best  I could  to 
arrange  the  meat,  and  was  about  half  through  the  task, 
with  fingers  nearly  frozen,  when  I discovered  Mr.  Clarke 
and  El  Sourdo,  and  shortly  after  it  cleared  up,  and  the 
remainder  of  our  party,  all  loaded  with  meat,  arrived.  Thus 
supplied,  we  turned  our  faces  homewards,  and  arrived  at 
Santa  Cruz  a little  before  sundown,  where  a steaming  kettle 
of  coffee  soon  dispelled  our  cold  and  put  us  into  good  spirits. 

Mr.  Darwin  and  Admiral  Fitzroy  have  thoroughly  de- 
scribed the  configuration  of  the  Valley  of  Santa  Cruz  and  its 
surroundings,  so  that  a lengthened  attempt  to  portray  it  is 
not  necessary.  I would  particularly  refer  the  reader  to  the 
accurate  and  picturesque  description  by  the  former  of  the 
bench  formation  which  causes  the  western  part  of  the  envi- 
rons of  the  river  to  present  the  appearance  of  the  shores  of 
former  successive  estuaries — of  a vast  river  or  fiord. 

Near  the  settlement  the  ascent  of  the  Southern  Barranca 
immediately  leads  to  a level  plain  extending  for  the  space  of 
a couple  of  miles ; then  there  is  another  rise  of  perhaps  fifty 
feet,  and  another  plain,  which  extends  for  about  the  space  of 
a league  to  a range  of  successive  ridges,  which  we  called  the 
Blue  Hills  from  their  peculiar  appearance  on  clear  days. 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


53 


These,  eastwards,  lose  their  elevations,  and  merge  into  the 
undulations  of  the  high  Pampa  and  a rolling  cheerless 
waste  of  stones,  coarse  grass,  and  incense  bushes  ; its  uneven 
surface  often  traversed  by  ravines  running  in  various  direc- 
tions. Amongst  these  hills  there  is  a large  lagoon  which 
Casimiro  informed  me  he  used  to  visit  whilst  residing  with 
the  missionaries  for  the  purpose  of  procuring  wild  fowl,  of 
which  there  were  then  great  numbers,  but  they  had  latterly 
given  up  this  resort.  There  are  other  lagoons  scattered  at 
intervals  in  the  before-mentioned  plains,  which,  during  the 
winter,  were  frozen,  and  the  beautifully  smooth  ice  often 
caused  Mr.  Clarke  and  myself  to  long  for  a pair  of  skates ; 
indeed  we  tried  to  manufacture  a pair,  but  without  success. 

Towards  the  sea  coast  from  the  Blue  Hills  the  slope 
appears  gradual,  until  nearing  the  coast,  when  the  plain  is 
intersected  by  gullies  and  deep  fertile  valleys,  which  render 
hunting  very  tedious  work,  as  it  is  necessary  to  trust 
almost  entirely  to  the  dogs.  Game  abounds  in  this  direc- 
tion, especially  during  the  winter.  We  made  numerous 
excursions  up  river,  generally  staying  away  from  the  settle- 
ment three  or  four  days,  our  favourite  rendezvous  being  a 
place  about  sixty  miles  distant,  called  ‘ Chickrookaik,  ’ marked 
by  Fitzroy  as  an  Indian  Ford  or  Pass  of  the  river  Santa 
Cruz,  which  statement  both  El  Sourdo  and  Casimiro 
confirmed.  At  this  point  the  river  narrows  considerably, 
and  on  the  south  side  there  are  steep  cliffs  almost  over- 
hanging the  water,  a cave  in  which  cliffs  was  always  a sure 
find  for  a puma.  Both  above  and  below  this  point  are  large 
wide  plains  extending  from  the  ‘ banks  ’ or  cliffs  to  the  river, 
which  may  easily  be  encircled ; and  the  game  being  hemmed 
in  between  the  horsemen  and  the  river  are  readily  captured. 
Sometimes  the  ostriches  take  to  the  water,  but  in  the  winter 
this  saves  trouble,  as  their  legs  get  frozen,  and  on  landing 
they  are  unable  to  move.  We  made  an  excursion  on  one 
occasion  some  miles  higher  up  the  river,  and  found  abundance 
of  game.  We  had  previously  on  our  road  had  good  luck, 


54 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


but,  as  is  often  the  custom,  left  the  slain  animals  concealed 
in  bushes,  with  a poncho  or  something  over  them.  During 
the  interval  of  our  absence  severe  weather  set  in,  and  on 
returning  to  examine  our  caches  the  foxes  and  birds  of  prey 
had  accounted  for  the  meat.  The  foxes  are  a great  trouble 
to  the  hunters,  as,  frequently,  whilst  they  are  encircling  the 
herds  of  guanaco,  and  taking  the  greatest  care  to  keep  out 
of  sight,  one  of  these  brutes  will  jump  up,  the  dogs  give 
chase,  and  then  good-bye  to  all  chance  of  sport.  Fitzroy 
remarked  the  number  of  guanaco  bones  found  in  his  ascent 
of  the  river  Santa  Cruz,  which  appear  to  have  puzzled  him, 
but  the  cause  is  not  far  to  seek.  During  the  very  severe 
winters  which  occur  I believe  about  once  in  three  years, 
these  animals,  finding  no  pasture  on  the  high  lands,  which 
are  covered  with  snow,  are  necessarily  driven  down  to  the 
plains  fringing  the  river,  where  they  die  from  starvation. 
There  is  also  a disease  prevalent  amongst  them  something 
similar  to  scab  in  sheep.  On  one  occasion  a hunting  party 
killed  ten  guanacos,  all  of  which  were  scabby,  or,  as  we  called 
it,  ‘ sanoso  ; ’ and,  consequently,  unfit  for  food.  Mr.  Clarke 
told  me  that  after  one  severe  winter  he  found  ostriches 
lying  in  heaps,  dead  under  the  hushes,  and  also  guanacos. 
The  difficulty  of  getting  the  horses  across  the  swift  and  deep 
stream,  with  its  banks  encumbered  by  ice,  prevented  us  from 
making  frequent  excursions  to  the  northern  side  of  the 
river.  A level  plain  extends  from  the  banks  for  about  a mile, 
bounded  by  a chain  of  irregular  hills  ; near  the  foot  of  these 
I picked  up  many  specimens  of  a spiral  shell,  apparently  a 
Turritella,  which  appeared  to  have  been  vitrified  ; and  some 
were  as  translucent  as  glass,  and  of  different  colours.  Beyond 
these  hills  rolled  a succession  of  uneven  plains  diversified  by 
ridges  and  hills  ; the  general  slope  of  the  ground  being 
apparently  from  west  to  east,  and  the  hills  towards  the  west 
often  assumed  the  form  of  abrupt  lofty  cliffs.  Near  a 
laguna  at  the  foot  of  a cliff  a hundred  feet  high  I found 
boulders  incrusted  with  sulphate  of  iron,  such  as  had  been 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


oo 


pointed  out  to  me  in  the  Falklands,  and  numerous  oyster 
shells  and  other  marine  shells  occured  in  various  localities. 
There  are  no  streams,  hut  frequent  lagoons  in  the  hollows, 
and  surrounded  by  a luxuriant  growth  of  incense  bushes. 
The  unbroken  plains  abound  in  round  thistle,  califate,  and 
the  curious  shrub  called  ‘ ratstail,’  from  the  appearance  of  its 
twigs  when  the  thick  bark  is  pulled  off.  When  burned  it 
emits  a dense  black  resinous  smoke.  To  the  north  the  hori- 
zon is  bounded  by  a lofty  range  of  hills  which  form  the 
harrier  of  the  valley  of  the  Rio  Chico,  about  sixty  miles 
distant.  These  northern  hills  abound  with  puma,  some  of 
which,  killed  in  our  hunts,  were  of  unusual  size,  measuring 
fully  six  feet  exclusive  of  the  tail,  which  is  generally 
half  the  length  of  the  body.  They  are,  of  course,  most 
numerous  where  the  herds  of  guanaco  and  the  ostriches 
abound  ; in  the  southern  part  of  Patagonia  their  colour  is 
more  of  a greyish-brown  than  that  of  the  species  found  in 
the  Argentine  Provinces.  These  ‘ Leones,’  as  they  are 
universally  called  in  South  America,  always  appeared  to  me 
to  be  the  most  cat-like  of  all  the  felidae.  They  are  vfery 
timid,  always  running  from  a man  on  horseback,  and,  by 
day  at  least,  from  a pedestrian  ; they  run  for  a short  distance 
in  a series  of  long  bounds,  at  great  speed,  but  soon  tire  and 
stand  at  bay  behind  or  in  the  midst  of  a bush,  and  sitting 
upon  their  haunches,  spit  and  swear  just  like  a monstrous 
tabby  ; sometimes  endeavouring  to  scratch  with  their  formi- 
dable claws,  but  rarely  springing  at  the  pursuer.  Mr. 
Clarke  on  one  occasion  had  his  mantle  torn  off  in  this 
manner.  At  another  time,  when  hunting  in  the  vicinity  of 
Santa  Cruz,  I observed  from  a distance  Gonzalez  hacking 
with  his  knife  at  a big  incense  bush,  and  on  reaching  the  spot 
found  him  occupied  in  clearing  away  branches  to  allow  him 
to  knock  a huge  puma  on  the  head  with  his  holas.  He  was 
dismounted  and  attended  by  his  dogs,  which  bayed  the  animal. 
Still,  had  the  puma  not  been  a cur,  he  could  doubtless  have 
sprung  out  and  killed  or  severely  wounded  the  gaueho. 


56 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


The  Indians  affirm  that  the  puma  will  attack  a single  man 
alone  and  on  foot,  and,  indeed,  subsequently,  an  example  of 
this  came  under  my  notice ; however,  if  a person  should  be 
benighted  or  lost,  he  has  only  to  take  the  precaution  of 
lighting  a fire,  which  these  animals  will  never  approach. 
They  are  most  savage  in  the  early  part  of  the  spring  or  breed- 
ing season,  when,  according  to  my  experience,  they  are  found 
roaming  over  the  country  in  an  unsettled  manner  ; they  are 
then  also  thinner  than  at  other  times,  but,  like  the  wild 
horse,  they  are  generally  pretty  fat  at  all  times  of  the  year. 
The  females  I saw  were  sometimes  accompanied  by  two  cubs, 
but  never  more.  The  meat  of  the  puma  resembles  pork,  and 
is  good  eating,  though  better  boiled  than  roasted,  but  one  or 
two  Indians  of  my  acquaintance  would  not  touch  the  meat. 
The  hide  is  useful  either  for  saddle-cloths  or  to  make 
mantles  of ; and  owing  to  its  greasy  nature  it  can  be  soft- 
ened with  less  trouble  than  that  of  the  guanaco.  In  Santa 
Cruz  one  of  the  men  had  a pair  of  trousers  made  of  lion’s 
skin,  which  worn  with  the  hair  side  out  was  impervious  to 
wet.  From  the  hock  and  lower  part  of  the  hind  legs  boots 
may  be  constructed  similar  to  those  made  from  horse  hide, 
and  in  common  use  amongst  the  Indians  and  also  the 
gauchos  of  Plata.  These,  however,  are  only  made  from 
pumas  of  large  size,  and  they  wear  out  very  quickly.  To 
kill  a puma  with  a gun  is  rather  a difficult  matter,  as,  unless 
the  ball  enters  his  skull,  or  strikes  near  the  region  of  the 
heart,  he  has  as  many  lives  as  his  relation  the  cat.  I once 
put  three  revolver  bullets  into  one,  and  ultimately  had 
recourse  to  the  bolas  as  a more  effective  weapon.  When 
wounded  they  become  very  savage,  but  they  are  at  all  times 
bad  customers  for  dogs,  which  they  maul  in  a shocking 
manner.  The  Indian  dogs  are  trained  to  stand  off  and  bay 
them,  keeping  out  of  range  of  the  claws ; nevertheless  they  not 
unfrequently  get  killed.  Perhaps  the  simplest  way  of  taking 
the  pumas,  is  to  throw  a lazo  over  them,  as  directly  they 
feel  the  noose  they  lie  down  as  if  dead,  and  are  easily  des- 


c„ 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


57 


patched.  I was  particularly  struck,  as  are  all  hunters,  with 
their  eyes,  large,  brown,  and  beautifully  bright,  but  with  a 
fierce  glare  that  does  not  appeal  to  any  feelings  of  compas- 
sion. I shall  never  forget  the  expression  in  the  eyes  of  one 
puma,  best  described  by  the  remark  made  by  one  of  the 
Indians  as  he  reined  back  his  horse,  expecting  a spring: 
‘ Mira  los  ojos  del  diahlo  ! ’ (‘  Look,  what  devil’s  eyes  ! ’) 

One  expedition  on  the  northern  shore  was  long  remembered 
and  talked  of  over  the  fire  ; and,  indeed,  might  easily  have 
had  a very  disastrous  conclusion. 

Towards  the  latter  end  of  July  I proposed  to  Mr.  Clarke 
that  we  should  proceed  on  foot,  and  investigate  more  closely 
the  bed  of  fossil  shells  mentioned  as  situated  on  the  hills 
about  a mile  from  the  north  bank  of  the  river.  Accordingly, 
one  morning  we  prepared  to  cross  the  river,  and  the  re- 
mainder of  the  men,  hearing  of  our  intentions,  volunteered, 
together  with  El  Sourdo,  to  accompany  us,  and,  after  having 
visited  the  hills,  to  organize  a hunting  circle  on  foot : we 
started  about  sunrise,  and  crossed  the  river  to  the  north  side, 
where  we  secured  the  boat  above  high-water  mark  ; we  then 
all  proceeded  to  the  hills,  investigated  the  beds  of  fossij 
shells,  and  gathered  many  beautiful  specimens.  The  hunt 
was  then  formed,  so  many  dogs  being  apportioned  to  each 
person,  and  the  circle  being  directed  to  close  on  a point  on 
the  bank  of  the  river  about  three  or  four  miles  west  of  the 
settlement.  The  ground  was  very  favourable  for  our  opera- 
tions, as  the  dips,  or  slightly  depressed  valleys,  hid  us  from 
the  view  of  the  game.  On  emerging  on  the  plain  at  different 
points  we  saw  several  guanacos  and  some  ostriches ; and  those 
nearest  them  slipped  their  hounds,  following  on  foot  at  their 
topmost  speed.  Mr.  Clarke,  Isidoro,  El  Sourdo,  and  myself 
were  in  the  centre,  and  killed  amongst  us  two  guanacos  and 
an  ostrich.  Antonio,  who  was  pointsman,  disappeared  to  the 
westward  with  El  Cooke,  following  then-  dogs  in  full  chase 
of  a herd  of  guanacos.  Our  party  lit  a fire,  ate  the  ostrich, 
and  conveyed  what  meat  we  thought  advisable  to  take  back 


58 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


with  us  towards  the  boat,  following  the  river  bank,  which 
was  strewn  in  many  places  with  cornelians  and  flint-agates, 
and  occasionally  with  fossilised  shells.  On  our  arrival  at  the 
boat  we  launched  her  down  the  beach,  and  as  the  wind  had 
by  this  time  risen  to  a severe  gale  and  the  tide  was  rapidly 
ebbing,  watched  anxiously  for  the  return  of  the  two  de- 
faulters ; for  the  navigation  of  the  river  is  at  no  time  very 
easy,  and  when  the  tide  is  low,  even  in  daylight,  nearly 
impracticable.  At  length,  after  dark,  when  the  squalls  of 
bitterly-cold  wind  had  become  very  violent,  we  saw  fires  in 
the  distance,  and  almost  half  an  hour  afterwards  our  missing 
men  appeared,  each  with  a load  of  meat  on  his  shoulders. 
They  arrived  considerably  exhausted,  so  we  gave  them  a 
rest,  and  then  dogs  and  all  got  into  the  boat,  and  we  shoved 
off,  Mr.  Clarke  steering.  We  proceeded  all  right  for  a few 
yards,  and  then  struck  on  a bank  ; after  several  ineffectual 
efforts  to  shove  the  boat  off,  we  all  jumped  into  the  water 
and  fairly  hove  her  over  the  bank  until  the  water  was  up 
nearly  to  our  shoulders,  and  then  got  in  and  pulled  across. 
Owing  to  the  violence  of  the  wind  and  the  strength  of  the 
current,  we  only  succeeded  in  landing  fully  three-quarters 
of  a mile  from  the  house  ; here  we  secured  the  boat,  and  ran 
up  as  fast  as  we  could  to  get  our  now  frozen  clothes  off  and 
a drink  of  hot  coffee.  We  all  agreed  that  on  another  expe- 
dition it  would  be  advisable  either  to  encamp  on  the  northern 
shore  until  daylight,  or  come  back  early  enough  to  be  able  to 
get  across  while  it  was  possible  to  see  the  banks.  But  the 
general  conclusion  was  not  to  go  again  at  all. 

The  weather  in  July  was  intensely  cold,  the  lowest  reading 
of  the  thermometer,  which  was  duly  examined  every  morn- 
ing, being  8°.  Washing  our  clothes  became  impossible,  as 
during  the  process  the  water  froze  and  the  garments  became 
stiff  as  boards.  When  crossing  the  ford,  if  the  potro  boots 
of  the  rider  happened,  as  was  not  unfrequently  the  case,  to 
get  filled  with  water,  in  a few  minutes  not  only  were  the 
boots  coated  with  ice,  but  the  inside  resembled  an  ice-pail. 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


59 


The  effect  of  the  river  ice  piled  up  on  the  shore  by  the  tides 
was  very  striking.  Huge  floes  had  accumulated  to  the  height 
of  fifteen  feet  and  upwards,  and  besides  rendering  the  passage 
difficult,  had  buried  the  carefully-stacked  wood-pile  under 
a small  mountain  of  ice.  This  was  in  the  comparatively 
sheltered  valley.  On  the  Pampas,  when  the  fierce  south 
wind  blew,  as  it  almost  invariably  did,  it  seemed  impossible 
to  face  it  and  live.  One  attempt  made  nearly  resulted  in 
Gonzalez  being  overcome  by  the  sleep  which  is  the  forerunner 
of  death,  and  the  horses  of  all  the  party  absolutely  could  not 
advance.  The  snow  lay  eighteen  inches  deep,  and  we  had 
flattered  ourselves  that  the  guanaco  and  ostrich  would  prove 
an  easy  prey.  They  could  not  run — hut  we  could  not  chase, 
and  were  thankful  to  make  our  way,  slowly  and  laboriously, 
down  from  the  desolate  and  storm-swept  Pampas. 

The  Indians  from  the  Rio  Chico  occasionally  visited  us, 
and  Orkeke’s  objection  to  my  company  was  gradually  giving 
way.  He  had  probably  feared  that  an  English  Senor  would 
require  a considerable  amount  of  attention,  and  give  constant 
trouble  ; but  during  our  intercourse  he  found  that  the  stranger 
could  (and  did)  groom  his  own  horse,  and  wait  on  himself 
generally,  as  well  as  take  his  part  in  whatever  was  being 
done,  even  to  sleeping  out  with  no  shelter  but  the  ample 
guanaco  mantle.  Casimiro  also,  according  to  promise,  visited 
the  camp,  and  argued  in  my  favour,  finally  obtaining  from 
the  chief  a somewhat  reluctant  permission  for  me  to  join  his 
party.  Towards  the  end  of  July  some  of  his  Indians  had 
come  to  the  settlement  to  inform  us  that  the  scarcity  of  game 
in  their  vicinity  had  compelled  them  to  shift  their  quarters 
to  a place  higher  up  the  Kio  Chico.  They  anxiously  inquired 
if  the  schooner  had  arrived  ; we  were  as  eagerly  looking  for 
her,  but  day  after  day  passed,  and  the  looked-for  boat  did  not 
appear. 

On  the  24th  of  July  everybody  had  gone  hunting,  except 
Juan  Chileno  (who  was  cook  for  the  week),  and  myself, 
whom  a hurt  received  in  my  foot  had  compelled  to  remain 


60 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


quiet.  I was  employed  reading  a book,  ‘Charles  Dashwood,’ 
for  perhaps  the  twentieth  time,  when  Juan  came  in  to  say 
that  the  hunting  party  had  returned.  As  it  was  only  ten 
o’clock,  my  first  idea  was  that  the  schooner  had  arrived  with 
Don  Luiz.  However,  this  was  dispelled  by  Juan,  who  had 
gone  out  to  reconnoitre,  rushing  in  with  the  news  that  ten 
Chilians  had  arrived  on  the  south  side  with  twenty-one  horses. 
Shortly  afterwards  Mr.  Clarke  himself  came  in  and  cor- 
roborated the  intelligence.  These  men  proved  to  be  deserters, 
who  had  escaped  by  night  from  Punta  Arena,  taking  with 
them  nearly  all  the  horses  in  the  corral.  They  had  left  on 
the  2nd  of  July,  at  two  a.m.  Four  of  the  number  were  those 
previously  recaptured  in  Santa  Cruz,  who  had  been  kept  in 
irons  and  closely  confined  at  night ; but  by  a supreme  effort 
they  had  broken  their  chains,  and  together  with  the  others, 
who  had  everything  arranged  outside  the  cuartel,  had  effected 
their  escape.  The  sufferings  these  men  must  have  under- 
gone during  the  twenty-two  days’  journey  over  the  Pampas, 
exposed  without  shelter  to  the  fierce  winds,  and  sometimes 
with  the  snow  up  to  their  horses’  girths,  must  have  been 
something  frightful,  and  many  of  them  were  frost-bitten. 
It  was  out  of  the  question  for  us  to  receive  them,  as  our  own 
supplies  were  failing,  and  in  truth  we  congratulated  our- 
selves on  the  horses  being  secured  in  the  corral,  and  anxiously 
watched  the  movements  of  the  new  comers.  The  party 
during  the  afternoon  succeeded  in  crossing  the  river  to  the 
north  side,  swimming  their  horses ; and  disappeared  in  the 
direction  of  the  Rio  Chico. 

By  this  time  even  the  kind  companionship  of  Mr.  Clarke 
failed  to  reconcile  me  to  the  tedious  monotony  of  our  life. 
The  game  also  became  scarcer  and  scarcer,  and  the  chance  of 
the  schooner’s  coming  appeared  so  indefinite,  that  at  the 
beginning  of  August  I began  to  think  it  would  be  better  and 
more  amusing  to  migrate  to  the  Indian  camp,  where,  at  any 
rate,  plenty  of  meat  was  procurable.  Accordingly,  when  the 
Indians  came  over  again  on  a visit  on  the  7th  of  August,  I 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


61 


bought  a horse,  or  rather  exchanged  away  a revolver  for  one 
(a  three  year  old,  newly  broken),  and  started  in  company  with 
Orkeke,  Campan,  Cayuke,  and  Tankelow,  four  Indians,  all  of 
whom  were  previous  acquaintances.  Casimiro  followed  with 
his  family,  taking  one  of  the  horses  from  Santa  Cruz  to  assist 
in  the  transport  of  his  household.  This  horse  was  one  I had 
been  accustomed  to  ride  in  Santa  Cruz,  and  on  arriving  at 
the  Indian  camp  was  lent  me  as  a second  horse.  Shortly 
after  passing  the  first  hills  on  the  northern  side,  our  party 
not  being  burdened  with  women  and  children,  started  off  at 
a hand  canter,  which  was  kept  up  until  a puma  suddenly 
sprang  out  of  a bush,  when  chase  was  immediately  given ; he, 
however,  got  into  a thick  tangle  of  incense  bushes,  from 
which  we  tried  in  vain  to  dislodge  him,  and  although  pelted 
with  stones  he  lay  there  spitting  like  a great  cat.  Cayuke 
wished  to  fire  the  bush,  but  Orkeke  would  not  waste  time,  so 
we  mounted  and  proceeded  on  our  journey.  We  continued 
riding  over  plains  and  ridges  until  about  four  p.m.,  when  we 
reached  a large  laguna,  close  to  which  grew  some  high  coarse 
grass  and  shrubs ; here  several  ostriches  were  started,  and 
one  killed  by  Orkeke.  On  reaching  the  range  of  hills  before 
described  as  the  southern  barrier  of  the  valley  of  the  Rio 
Chico,  we  halted,  and  shortly  had  the  ostrich  cooking  on  a 
good  fire.  We  looked  back  for  Casimiro,  but  could  not  see 
him,  so  after  supper  and  a smoke  pursued  our  journey  by  the 
soft  light  of  a young  moon.  We  rode  on  until  about  nine  p.m., 
when  we  reached  the  Indian  encampment.  We  had  been 
previously  puzzled  by  seeing  fires  burning  a considerable  dis- 
tance up  the  valley,  and  found  that  our  chief,  Camillo,  had 
already  marched  in  that  direction.  One  of  the  first  persons 
who  accosted  me  was  Arica,  and  I shortly  discovered  that 
all  the  Chilians  were  installed  with  the  Indians  in  different 
toldos,  which  was  rather  an  unpleasant  surprise.  I was 
ushered  into  Orkeke’s  toldo  with  due  ceremony,  and  we  took 
our  seats  by  the  fire.  I had  brought  a bag  of  coffee  with 
me,  so  we  set  to  work  and  roasted  some,  after  which  one  of 


62 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


the  Chilians  was  given  the  task  of  pounding  it  between 
stones,  and  we  all  drank  what  the  Indians  not  inappro- 
priately term  ‘ potwater.’  Many  Indians  crowded  in  to  have 
a look  at  us,  and  amongst  others  that  I noticed  was  a re- 
markably pretty  little  girl  of  about  thirteen  years  of  age, 
a niece  of  Orkeke’s,  who  took  some  coffee  when  offered  in  a 
shy  and  bashful  manner  which  was  delightful  to  contemplate. 
In  due  time  we  all  retired  to  rest,  and  a little  before  daylight 
I was  woke  by  the  melodious  singing  of  an  Indian  in 
the  next  toldo.  Shortly  afterwards  Orkeke  went  out  and 
harangued  the  inmates  of  the  remaining  toldos,  and  presently 
the  horses  were  brought  up,  and  most  of  the  men  started  for 
the  chase.  Snow  had  fallen  during  the  night,  a biting  cold 
wind  was  blowing,  and  Orkeke  told  me  there  were  very  few 
animals  about.  I took  this  as  a hint  not  to  ask  for  a horse, 
so  contented  myself  with  sauntering  round  and  examining 
the  encampment.  Some  of  the  men  were  playing  cards,  one 
or  two  sleeping,  whilst  the  women  were  almost  universally 
employed  in  sewing  guanaco  mantles.  About  three  p.m.,  Casi- 
miro  arrived  with  his  family,  and  proceeded  to  the  tent  of  a 
southern  Indian,  named  Crime,  and  shortly  afterwards  the 
hunting  party  returned  by  twos  and  threes,  but  the  chase 
had  not  been  attended  with  much  success.  We  passed  the 
evening  pleasantly  enough,  making  acquaintance  with  each 
other,  and  Keoken,  the  little  girl,  instructed  me  in  the  Indian 
names  of  the  various  objects  about  the  place.  Next  morning 
the  order  was  suddenly  given  to  march.  As  this  was  totally 
unexpected,  and  I was  not  prepared  for  departure,  I made  up 
my  mind  to  return  at  once  to  Santa  Cruz,  and  fetch  my 
clothes  and  other  small  articles  ; also  to  take  back  a colt, 
promised  by  an  Indian  called  ‘ Tchang  ’ to  Mr.  Clarke.  After 
some  little  difficulty,  as  the  Indians  did  not  wish  me  to  go 
alone  for  fear  of  getting  lost,  or  any  other  mischance  befalling 
me,  Graviel,  the  youngest  son  of  Casimiro,  started  with  me. 
We  had  to  take  the  colt,  what  a sailor  would  term,  in  tow, 
that  is,  drag  it  for  some  distance  with  a lazo.  As  Graviel’s 


SANTA  CRUZ. 


63 


horse  was  shy,  this  work  fell  to  my  share.  Shortly  after  the 
start,  rain,  or  rather  sleet,  came  on,  and  the  contrariness  of 
the  brute  at  the  end  of  the  lazo  claiming  all  my  attention,  I 
could  not  manage  to  keep  my  mantle  tight  round  my  shoulders, 
and  getting  thoroughly  wet,  and  losing  one  of  my  knives, 
cursed  Tchang,  colt  and  all,  freely.  After  a short  time,  how- 
ever, when  well  out  of  sight  of  the  Indians,  I cast  off  the 
towing  line,  and  we  drove  our  ‘ bete  noire  ’ before  us.  We 
returned  by  a different  route  to  the  one  travelled  on  the  out- 
ward journey,  guided  a good  deal  by  my  pocket  compass. 
Towards  nightfall,  deceived  by  the  appearance  of  a hill,  I 
flattered  myself  that  we  were  near  Santa  Cruz.  But,  alas! 
it  was  still  miles  away,  and  we  got  into  fresh  difficulties  with 
our  charge,  which  being  tired,  absolutely  refused  to  go  down 
the  hill,  and  had  to  be  taken  ‘ in  tow  ’ again  and  dragged 
along,  and  it  must  have  been  nine  or  ten  before  we  reached 
the  hanks  of  the  river.  Here,  after  unsaddling  our  horses, 
we  vainly  attempted  to  kindle  a fire,  but  everything,  like 
ourselves,  was  so  saturated  with  snow  and  wet  that  all 
attempts  were  fruitless  ; so,  fairly  tired  out,  and  without  fire 
or  supper,  we  laid  down  under  a bush,  and,  ensconced  under 
our  mantles,  were  soon  in  the  land  of  dreams. 

Next  morning  Graviel  acted  like  a dutiful  boy  for  once  in 
his  life,  and  left  in  search  of  the  horses.  Meanwhile  the  boat 
came  over,  and  I was  anxious  to  expedite  matters ; so,  after 
splashing  barefooted  through  several  yards  of  sharp-edged 
ice  on  my  way  to  the  boat,  which  had  grounded  some  dis- 
tance from  the  shore,  I got  over  to  the  island,  where  I was 
not  sorry  to  get  something  to  eat  and  a fire  to  warm  my 
frozen  limbs.  I packed  up  my  few  things,  ready  for  a start 
later  on;  but  when  the  flood-tide  made,  a heavy  gale  of 
wind  sprang  up,  and  it  was  with  great  difficulty  that  the 
boat  could  bring  over  Graviel  and  the  colt.  The  cheerful 
news  also  awaited  me  that  my  horse  was  missing,  and  that 
Graviel  and  El  Cooke  had  seen  a large  puma  on  the  rive 
bank,  which  had  probably  watched  in  close  proximity  to 


64 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


whilst  sleeping  the  night  before.  Owing  to  the  gale,  it  was 
impossible  to  cross  that  evening,  so  we  made  up  our  minds 
to  stop  and  sleep  on  the  island. 

Next  day,  my  horse  not  appearing,  Mr.  Clarke  lent  me 
one,  sending  Isidoro  to  bring  the  horse  back,  in  the  event  of 
our  not  meeting  with  the  missing  steed.  About  four  p.m.,  I 
bid  adieu  to  my  friend,  whose  kindness  during  my  stay  had 
proved  him  a friend  indeed.  Having  shaken  hands  with  the 
remainder  of  the  boys,  who  one  and  all  heartily  wished  me 
luck,  we  started  ; and  after  vainly  searching  for  the  missing 
horse,  rode  on  till  about  ten  p.m.,  when  we  halted  and 
bivouacked  by  the  side  of  a laguna.  Next  morning  early  we 
arrived  at  the  Bio  Chico,  which  we  crossed  on  the  ice,  and 
about  two  p.m.  reached  the  toldos.  The  men  were  away 
hunting,  the  smoke  of  their  fires  being  visible,  rising  from  the 
higher  plains  to  the  northward.  As  we  had  eaten  nothing 
since  our  supper  the  night  before,  which  was  furnished  by  a 
small  skunk  (which,  though  very  palatable,  was  unfortunately 
very  thin),  we  were  in  urgent  need  of  something  to  eat,  and 
Ai'ica  hastened  to  cook  some  guanaco  meat  on  the  asador  or 
iron  spit. 

When  the  hunters  arrived,  Orkeke  gruffly  asked  Isidoro 
what  he  had  come  for,  and  seemed,  naturally  enough,  the 
reverse  of  pleased  at  the  information  of  the  loss  of  his  horse ; 
and,  altogether,  the  old  chief’s  behaviour  did  not  seem 
auspicious ; but,  without  appearing  to  notice  it,  I made 
myself  at  home  in  the  toldo,  and  took  up  my  quarters  as  one 
of  the  family. 


CHAPTER  III. 


THE  KIO  CHICO. 


Breaking  up  of  the  Camp — An  Idle  Day — A Rash  Start — A Dilemma — 
Alone  on  the  Pampa — Reunion — The  Kau  or  Toldo — The  Domestic 
Interior — The  Indian  Tribes — Three  Races — Order  of  the  March— 
The  Hunt — Indian  Game  Law — Tehuelche  Cookery — -Basaltic  Hills — 
An  Indian  Festival — My  First  Tehuelche  Ball — Mrs.  Orkeke’s  Spill 
—Fording  Rio  Chico — A Battle — Death  of  Cuastro — Dangerous 
Times — Chilian  Conspiracy — Obsidian  Plain  and  Pass — First  Ostrich 
Eggs — Amakaken — Lifting  the  Boulder — The  Devil’s  Country — God’s 
Hill — Condors  and  Dinner — -Sunrise  on  the  Cordillera — The  Plague 
Herald — Gelgel  Aik — Escape  from  Matrimony — Tele — Eyes  of  the 
Desert — Preparations  for  War — Another  Fight — -Water  Tigers — 
Indian  Bravoes — Iron  Ores — Ship  Rock — Perch  Fishing — Appleykaik 
— Casimiro’s  Escape — Arrival  at  Henno. 

HE  morning  after  we  had  rejoined  the  Indian  camp  was 


marked  by  the  general  breaking  up  of  the  party.  Camillo 
and  some  others  had  already  left,  and  by  this  time  were 
several  marches  in  advance  ; Orkeke  and  Isidoro  started  off 
to  Santa  Cruz,  in  search  of  the  lost  horse,  and  charged  with 
some  little  commissions  for  me.  Finally,  Casimiro  and  all 
the  rest  broke  up  then  encampment  and  started,  intending  to 
overtake  Camillo.  Before  leaving,  Casimiro  came  to  me,  and 
affecting  great  interest  in  my  welfare,  confidentially  urged 
me  to  accompany  himself  and  live  as  an  inmate  of  his  (or 
rather  Crime’s)  toldo,  adding  that  he  had  been  informed 
that  Orkeke  had  no  real  intention  of  marching  northward, 
but  designed  to  keep  me  in  his  toldo  until,  by  some  means  or 
other,  he  could  possess  himself  of  my  arms  and  ammunition. 


5 


66 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


As  I saw  no  reason  to  believe  this  story,  I declined  to  comply 
with  the  proposal  of  Casimiro,  who,  having  consoled  himself 
by  begging  a little  coffee,  took  his  departure,  and  the  en- 
campment was  reduced  to  the  toldo,  of  which  I was  to 
consider  myself  an  inmate,  and  another,  belonging  to  the 
only  Indians  who  remained — Tankelow,  Orkeke’s  brother, 
and  his  son,  a youth  of  about  eighteen.  Besides  these,  there 
were  three  of  the  Chilian  deserters  who  as  narrated  bad 
escaped  from  Punta  Arena  ; one  was  attached  to  the  house- 
hold of  Tankelow,  and  the  other  two  to  that  of  Orkeke.  One 
of  these  was  Arica,  already  mentioned,  who  being  a very 
clever  worker  in  hide,  had  employed  himself  in  adorning 
saddles  and  bridles  for  the  Indians,  by  which  he  had  acquired 
a pretty  good  stock  of  gear.  The  condition  of  all  three  was, 
however,  not  enviable.  They  had  lowered  themselves  at 
first  by  volunteering  to  discharge  the  drudgery  of  fetching 
wood  and  water,  and  by  this  time  were  little  better  than 
slaves,  obliged  to  perform  the  menial  offices,  which  before 
had  been  the  task  of  the  women.  These  fair  creatures, 
headed  by  Mrs.  Orkeke — a young  woman  almost  six  feet  in 
height,  and  displaying  a corresponding  breadth  across  the 
shoulders — employed  themselves  in  cutting  out  and  sewing 
guanaco  mantles,  weaving  fillets  for  the  head,  and  chattering. 
Tankelow  and  his  son  presently  started  for  a hunt ; but  as  I 
was  not  offered  a mount,  and  deemed  it  more  reasonable  to 
give  my  only  charger  a good  rest  and  feed,  I could  only 
accompany  them  to  the  river,  the  frozen  surface  of  which 
they  crossed,  and  disappeared  up  a canon  that  led  up  the 
barranca,  on  the  northern  limit  of  the  valley,  to  the  Upper 
Pampa.  Having  wistfully  watched  them,  I reconnoitred  the 
valley  of  the  Rio  Chico.  Behind  me,  to  the  south-east,  the 
river  wound  through  plains  covered  with  withered  coarse 
grass,  some  eighteen  inches  high,  extending  on  either  bank 
for  several  miles  till  terminated  by  the  rising  barranca. 
Snow  lay  here  and  there  in  patches  on  some  of  the  higher 
ground,  and  increased  the  dreariness  of  the  prospect.  About 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


67 


two  leagues  below  the  river  divided  into  two  branches,  which 
reunited  beyond  an  island  of  some  extent.  Looking  up  river 
in  a north-westerly  direction,  the  valley  soon  narrowed  in, 
the  southern  barranca  sloping  down  to  within  a couple  of 
miles  of  our  camp  ; and  the  view  was  closed  by  two  remark- 
able hills  resembling  fortresses,  which  seemed  to  stand  on 
guard  on  either  side.  I made  a slight  sketch  of  the  outlines  of 
the  view,  which  forms  the  background  of  the  hunting  scene.* 
Having  strolled  back  to  the  toldo,  I was  greeted  by  the 
women  with  the  usual  demand,  ‘Mon  aniwee’ — Anglice, 

‘ Lend  us  the  pipe,’  which  was  duly  charged  and  handed 
round.  We  then  sat  and  watched  the  proceedings  of  Keoken, 
Tankelow’s  pretty  little  daughter,  just  budding  into  woman- 
hood, and  a small  boy  to  whom  I gave  the  name  of  Captain 
John,  who  were  amusing  themselves  by  catching  and  riding 
some  of  the  horses  which  were  tamer  than  the  others.  The 
urchins  soon  grew  tired  of  their  equestrian  feats ; and, 
prompted  by  the  spirit  of  mischief,  which  seems  ever  to 
haunt  children,  and  especially  Indian  boys,  came  and  begged 
a match  of  me.  Not  suspecting  their  purpose,  I gave  them 
the  coveted  prize,  with  which  they  hurried  off  in  high  delight, 
and  in  a very  few  minutes  had  set  fire  to  the  rank,  withered 
herbage,  some  distance  off  the  toldo,  but  to  the  windward. 
The  conflagration  was  at  first  unnoticed  by  us  ; but  at  dusk, 
when  Tankelow  returned  from  hunting,  with  a supply  of 
meat,  it  was  palpably  dangerous.  So  all  hands  had  to  set 
to  work,  and  by  dint  of  tearing  up  the  grass,  with  great 
trouble  we  stopped  its  progress,  which  if  aided  by  a breeze 
in  the  night  would  very  probably  otherwise  have  consumed 
the  toldo  and  endangered  the  inmates.  Of  the  culprits  no 
notice  was  taken,  the  occurrence  being  apparently  regarded 
as  all  in  the  day’s  work.  After  our  supper  off  guanaco 
meat,  and  a smoke,  I turned  in,  and  slept  soundly  on  my 
Tehuelehe  bed  of  hides  and  bolsters  which  had  been  carefully 
arranged  by  the  tall  hostess. 

* Frontispiece. 


68 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


The  next  day  was  got  through  by  having  a thorough 
‘ wash  ’ of  my  clothes,  and  cultivating  a closer  acquaintance 
with  the  Chilian  Arica,  from  whom  I obtained  a dog  in 
exchange  for  an  old  guanaco  mantle.  But  as  on  the  third 
day  no  signs  of  the  return  of  Grkeke  appeared,  the  inaction 
became  insupportable,  so  after  the  departure  on  a hunting 
excursion  of  Tankelow  and  his  son,  Arica  and  myself  deter- 
mined to  start  in  pursuit  of  Casimiro  and  his  party.  As 
Arica  had  no  horse,  it  would  be  necessary  for  us  to  ride  and 
tie  ; but  even  thus  we  could  make  quick  travelling.  Accord- 
ingly at  two  p.m.  we  started,  much  to  the  astonishment  of  the 
ladies,  who  protested  that  we  were  certain  to  lose  our  way 
or  be  killed  by  the  pumas.  One  old  lady,  Orkeke’s  sister, 
after  trying  in  vain  to  dissuade  us,  presented  me  with  a slice 
of  charqui,  which  with  a few  handfuls  of  coffee  formed  our 
stock  of  provisions.  That  day  we  did  not  get  very  far; 
but  in  the  next  march,  as  the  track  of  the  Indians  was 
plain,  we  had  made  thirty  miles  by  the  time  we  halted,  at 
nightfall,  at  a place  where  another  valley  from  the  north- 
ward joined  that  of  the  Rio  Chico.  Our  charqui  had  barely 
sufficed  for  an  evening  meal,  so  this  day  we  satisfied  our 
appetites  with  the  supply  of  the  tuberous  roots  of  a plant 
which  grows  in  great  quantities  in  most  parts  of  Patagonia. 

The  plant,  which  in  its  growth  resembles  very  closely  the 
balsam  bog  of  the  Falkland  Islands,  and  might  be  easily 
taken  for  it  but  for  the  absence  of  the  gum,  which  perhaps 
was  attributable  to  the  quality  of  the  soil  or  the  season  of 
the  year,  is  easily  recognisable  by  its  mass  of  tiny  green 
leaflets,  and  presents  the  appearance  of  a small  hillock  of 
earth  crowned  with  delicate  moss.  By  digging  down  into 
the  heap,  one  large  and  several  small  tuberous  roots  are 
found,  which  when  roasted  in  the  ashes  prove  sufficiently 
palatable  to  hungry  men. 

We  went  to  sleep  in  the  open  air,  rolled  up  in  our  guanaco 
mantles,  but  awoke  to  find  that  a heavy  fall  of  snow  had 
covered  everything  a foot  deep,  and  totally  hidden  all  trail  of 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


69 


the  Indians.  In  this  dilemma,  quite  uncertain  which  of  the 
two  valleys  to  ascend,  and  feeling  extremely  cold,  we  first 
looked  out  for  a place  of  shelter.  This  was  afforded  us  by  a 
little  dell  or  recess  in  the  side  of  the  barranca,  which  was 
thickly  overgrown  with  incense  bushes.  Betaking  ourselves 
thither,  we  speedily  had  a blazing  fire  kindled,  and  while 
warming  our  chilled  limbs  held  a council.  It  was  decided 
that  I should  mount,  and  proceed  to  hunt  for  some  food ; 
and  then,  if  the  weather  moderated,  we  could  proceed.  Arica 
was  left  in  charge  of  the  fire,  with  a strong  caution  from  me 
to  keep  it  up,  and  to  make  as  much  smoke  as  possible,  by 
way  of  signal  to  the  Indians.  After  a good  deal  of  difficulty, 
my  horse,  which  was  only  half  broken,  and  had  a playful 
way  of  rearing  up  and  striking  with  his  forefeet,  was  curbed 
with  the  leathern  thong  which  forms  the  Indian  bit.  I then 
proceeded  to  scale  the  barranca  bordering  the  river  valley, 
and  soon  reached  the  desolate  undulations  of  the  higher- 
Pampa.  As  a necessary  precaution  against  losing  my  way, 

I was  careful  to  take  two  or  three  bearings  of  conspicuous 
hills,  visible  in  the  northern  limits  of  the  valley  ; for  the 
monotonous  and  dreary  waste  of  the  Pampa,  strewn  with 
boulders  and  shingle,  alternated  with  tufts  of  grass,  presents 
no  track  or  landmark  to  guide  the  wanderer.  It  was  not 
long  before  two  or  three  herds  of  guanaco  were  sighted  ; but 
the  dog,  which  had  probably  during  the  night  foraged  for 
himself,  and  found  some  half-eaten  carcase,  would  not  run, 
and  a gallop  of  some  twelve  miles  proved  fruitless.  Just 
as  I was  about  giving  up  in  despair,  I observed  a herd  in  a 
hollow,  which  I was  able  to  approach  unobserved.  Knowing 
that  our  chance  of  food  for  the  day  depended  on  success,  I 
warily  approached,  and  then  charged,  and  to  my  delight 
succeeded  in  entangling  one  with  the  bolas.  He  was  soon 
despatched  ; and  while  I was  busily  cutting  off  a supply  of 
meat,  to  my  sudden  surprise  an  Indian  came  galloping  up. 
The  new  comer  proved  to  be  Tankelow,  who  was  in  search  of 
me.  He  brought  word  that  Orkeke  had  found  the  strayed 


70 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


horse,  and  had  returned  ; and  that  the  party  were  marching 
as  fast  as  they  could  to  overtake  Casimiro.  He  had  been 
detached,  partly  to  hunt  and  partly  to  find  us.  In  reply  to 
my  inquiries  about  Arica,  he  assured  me  that  he  was  all  right, 
and  as  there  seemed  no  reason  for  disbelieving  the  statement 
we  speedily  rode  hack  to  the  party,  and  rejoined  them  on 
the  march,  being  received  with  shouts  of  laughter  from  the 
ladies ; hut  as  Arica  was  nowhere  to  be  seen,  I expressed 
my  determination  to  ride  back  in  search  of  him.  This,  how- 
ever, they  would  not  allow,  hut  despatched  a mounted  Indian 
and  spare  horse  to  bring  him  in,  and  a good  piece  of  meat 
for  his  refreshment.  We  then  proceeded  at  a brisk  rate,  and 
by  nightfall  reached  the  camp.  Orkeke  at  first  seemed 
rather  to  resent  my  having  started  off  alone,  as  if  it  argued  a 
want  of  confidence  in  him  ; hut  his  delight  at  having  re- 
covered his  horse  assisted  him  to  recover  his  good  humour. 
Mr.  Clarke  had  sent  me  by  him  some  powder,  which  he  said 
he  had  lost,  and  some  articles,  such  as  linen  and  tobacco, 
and  my  presenting  them  all  to  him  quite  did  away  with  any 
traces  of  ill-feeling. 

The  several  detachments  were  all  now  reunited,  and  the 
party  mustered  altogether,  besides  the  Chilians  and  myself, 
eighteen  able-bodied  Tehuelche  or  Patagonian  men,  with  a 
proportionate  number  of  women  and  children.  The  most 
important  among  the  Indians  were  Orkeke,  the  actual  cacique, 
and  his  brother  Tankelow,  who  possessed  the  greater  number 
of  horses  ; Casimiro,  whose  leadership  was  still  rather  in 
posse;  Camillo,  Crime,  Cuastro,  Cayuke,  &c.  One  more 
must  be  mentioned  by  name,  Waki ; a perfect  Hercules  in 
bodily  frame,  and  a thoroughly  good-natured  fellow,  with 
whom  I became  great  friends.  Of  all  these  men,  who  were 
in  the  camp  by  the  Rio  Chico  on  August  15,  but  eight 
survived  to  reach  the  Rio  Negro  in  the  following  May ; the 
rest  had,  at  one  time  or  another,  been  killed  or  had  died. 
The  secret  feuds  which  were  before  long  to  endanger  the 
safety  of  us  all,  were  as  yet  concealed,  and  all  appeared 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


71 


to  be  good  friends.  The  whole  were  housed  in  five  toldos — 
by  which  Spanish  name  the  Indian  kau,  or  tents,  strongly 
resembling  those  of  our  own  gipsies,  are  known.  They 
were  pitched  in  a sheltered  hollow,  with  their  fronts  facing 
the  east,  to  avoid  the  bitter  violence  of  the  prevalent  westerly 
winds. 

Fitzroy  has  given  an  excellent  description  of  the  toldo ; 
but  to  those  readers  who  are  unacquainted  with  it  a brief 
sketch  will  not  be  unacceptable.  A rew  of  forked  posts 
about  three  feet  high  is  driven  into  the  ground  in  a slightly 
slanting  position,  and  a ridge  pole  laid  across  them  ; in  front 
of  these,  at  a distance  of  about  seven  feet,  a second  row, 
six  feet  high,  with  a ridge  pole  ; and  at  the  same  distance 
from  them  a third  row,  eight  feet  high,  each  slanting  a little, 
but  not  at  the  same  angle.  A covering  made  of  from  forty 
to  fifty  full-grown  guanaco  skins,  smeared  with  a mixture  of 
grease  and  red  ochre,  is  drawn  over  from  the  rear,  and  the 
great  drag  of  the  heavy  covering  straightens  the  poles  ; it  is 
then  secured  by  thongs  to  the  front  poles,  while  hide  curtains 
fastened  between  the  inner  poles  partition  off  the  sleeping- 
places,  and  the  baggage  piled  round  the  sides  of  the  tent 
excludes  the  cold  blast  which  penetrates  under  the  edge  of 
the  covering.  The  fire  is  kindled  in  the  fore  part,  or  ‘ mouth 
of  the  tent.’  In  very  bad  weather,  or  when  encamped  for 
the  winter,  an  additional  covering  is  secured  to  the  front 
poles  and  brought  down  over  an  extra  row  of  short  posts, 
making  all  snug.  It  is  a common  arrangement  for  relatives 
or  friends  to  combine  their  toldos,  when,  instead  of  bringing 
down  the  coverings  to  the  ground  at  the  side,  they  are  made 
to  overlap,  and  thus  one  tent  roof  will  cover  two  or  three 
distinct  domestic  interiors. 

The  furniture  of  the  toldos  consists  of  one  or  two  bolsters 
and  a horse  hide  or  two  to  each  sleeping  compartment,  one 
to  act  as  a curtain  and  the  other  for  bedding.  The  bolsters 
are  made  of  old  ponchos,  or  lechus,  otherwise  called  man- 
dils,  woven  blankets  obtained  from  the  Araucanos,  who  are 


72 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


famous  for  their  manufacture,  stuffed  with  guanaco  "wool 
and  sown  up  with  ostrich  or  guanaco  sinews.  The  bolsters 
do  duty  as  pillows  or  as  seats,  and  help  to  form  the  women’s 
saddles  on  the  march.  Besides  these,  the  women  all  own 
mandils  for  their  beds.  The  men  occasionally  use  the  cloths 
worn  under  the  saddles  for  seats  when  the  ground  is  damp, 
but  as  a rule  all  the  inmates  of  the  toldo  squat  upon  Nature’s 
carpet,  which  has  the  advantage  of  being  easily  cleaned,  for 
the  Tehuelches  are  very  particular  about  the  cleanliness  of 
the  interior  of  their  dwellings,  and  a patch  of  sod  accidentally 
befouled  is  at  once  cutout  and  thrown  outside  by  the  women. 

The  cooking  utensils  are  simple,  consisting  of  an  asador, 
or  iron  6pit,  for  roasting  meat,  and  an  occasional  iron  pot, 
which  serves  for  boiling  and  also  for  trying  out  ostrich 
grease  and  marrow,  which  is  employed  both  for  cooking 
and  for  mixing  with  the  paint  with  which  the  faces  of  both 
sexes  are  adorned.  To  these,  wooden  platters  and  armadillo 
shells,  to  serve  broth  in,  are  sometimes  added.  The  duty  of 
pitching  and  arranging  the  toldos  on  the  halt  and  striking 
them  for  the  march,  as  well  as  loading  the  poles,  covering, 
and  furniture  on  the  horses,  devolves  entirely  upon  the  women, 
who  display  great  strength  and  dexterity  in  the  work. 

About  the  toldos  were  innumerable  dogs  of  all  sizes  and 
breeds,  and  Mrs.  Orkeke  rejoiced  in  the  possession  of  two 
fowls  brought  from  the  settlement,  and  the  all-important 
possession  of  the  Indians — horses,  completed  the  bustling 
liveliness  of  the  scene.  There  were  not  less  than  150 
belonging  to  the  various  members  of  the  party,  Orkeke  and 
Tankelow  owning  about  forty,  besides  mares  and  skittish 
colts  of  all  ages,  which  ran  about  so  that  they  could  not  be 
counted.  The  reader  can  imagine  what  scene  the  march  and 
encampment  of  such  a party  presents,  and  the  care  with 
which  the  Indians  must  select  their  route  so  as  to  be  sure  of 
game  for  themselves  and  pasture  for  their  animals.  Of  the 
dogs  and  horses  in  use  by  the  Tehuelches  a fuller  description 
will  be  given  hereafter. 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


But  to  convey  a clear  understanding  of  the  relations 
between  the  tribes  which  will  he  mentioned  in  the  ensuing 
pages,  it  is  as  well  here  briefly  to  distinguish  them.  In  the 
various  maps  and  accounts  of  Patagonia  extant,  numerous 
tribes,  with  different  names,  are  marked  and  recorded.  These 
accounts,  so  far  as  my  observations  enable  me  to  judge,  have 
arisen  from  the  custom  of  parties  of  the  tribe  combining  to 
travel  or  fight  under  the  leadership  of  a particular  chief, 
and  being  described  by  themselves,  when  met  with,  by  his 
name.  I have  been  enabled  to  recognise  thus  the  Moluches, 
who  were  so  called  from  Malechou,  a hereditary  chief 
of  that  name  ; and  the  celebrated  chief  Lenketrou  united 
under  the  leadership  men  of  several  tribes,  and  is  said  to 
have  commanded  1,500  men  in  his  great  raid  on  the  Rio 
Negro  settlements.  There  are  now  between  the  Rio  Negro 
and  the  Straits  about  500  fighting  men,  giving  at  a rough 
estimate  a population  of  about  8,000.  The  Tehuelches,  or 
Patagonians  proper,  exclusive  of  the  Foot  Indians  of  Tierra 
del  Fuego — who  are  distinct,  though  they  may  be  of  the 
same  original  stock — -are  divided  into  two  great  tribes,  the 
Northern  and  Southern.  They  speak  the  same  language,  but 
are  distinguishable  by  difference  of  accent,  and  the  Southern 
men  appear  to  be,  on  an  average,  taller  and  finer  men, 
and  are  more  expert  hunters  with  the  bolas.  The  Northern 
range  chiefly  over  the  district  between  the  Cordillera  and 
the  sea  ; from  the  Rio  Negro  on  the  north  to  the  Chupat, 
occasionally  descending  as  far  as  the  Santa  Cruz  River.  The 
Southern  occupy  the  country  south  of  the  Santa  Cruz,  and 
migrate  as  far  as  Punta  Arena.  The  two  divisions,  however, 
are  much  intermixed  and  frequently  intermarry  ; always,  not- 
withstanding, preserving  their  clannish  division,  and  taking 
opposite  sides  in  the  frequent  quarrels.  Our  party  was  com- 
posed in  almost  equal  parts  of  both  Northern  and  Southern, 
and  one  inmate  of  our  toldo  was  a Southern  named  Hummums, 
a brother  of  Mrs.  Orkeke.  From  the  Rio  Negro  as  far  as  the 
Chupat,  another  tribe,  speaking  a different  language,  is  met 


74 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


with,  having  their  head-quarters  at  the  Salinas,  north  of 
the  Rio  Negro.  These  are  the  Pampas,  called  by  the 
Tehuelches  ‘ Penck,’  whence  I believe  the  name  Pehuelche 
has  been  corrupted.  Several  clans  of  this  nation  extend 
over  the  plains  north  of  Rio  Negro,  and  make  frequent 
inroads  into  the  Argentine  settlements  as  far  as  the  province 
of  Santa  Fe,  and  even,  I believe,  to  Cordova  and  Mendoza. 
The  Pampas  of  the  north  of  Patagonia  sometimes  keep 
cattle  and  sheep,  but  generally  subsist  by  the  chase.  A 
third  tribe  appear,  by  their  language  and  physique,  to  be  a 
branch  of  the  Araucanos  of  Chili.  These  are  the  people  called 
by  the  Tehuelches  Chenna,  and  also  the  Warriors  ; they  are 
otherwise  known  as  Manzaneros,  from  their  head-quarters 
Las  Manzanas,  so  named  from  the  groves  of  apple  trees ; 
once  a station  of  the  early  Jesuit  missionaries,  who  vainly 
endeavoured  to  convert  and  civilise  these  tribes.  They  are 
less  migratory  and  more  civilised  in  their  habits  than  the 
Tehuelches,  and  are  said  to  keep  herds  of  cattle  and  sheep 
in  the  sheltered  valleys  of  the  Cordillera,  and  sometimes 
till  a little  maize.  I do  not  know  whether  the  Jesuit 
Fathers  taught  their  disciples  the  art  or  no,  but  from  the 
apples  of  Las  Manzanas  these  Indians  brew  a very  tolerable 
cider,  besides  making  an  intoxicating  liquor  from  the  beans 
of  the  algarroba.  The  Tehuelches  altogether  depend  for  their 
stimulants  on  the  chance  supplies  of  rum  procured  in  trade 
at  the  settlements,  and  this  and  disease,  small-pox  especially, 
are  rapidly  diminishing  their  numbers. 

We  remained  in  our  encampment  by  the  Rio  Chico  for  one 
day,  during  which  the  missing  Arica  arrived.  He  was 
received  with  very  black  looks  by  Orkeke,  who  from  this 
time,  although  still  allowing  him  a place  in  his  toldo,  and  a 
horse  to  ride,  seemed  to  have  conceived  a violent  aversion 
to  him,  which  argued  badly  for  the  Chilian’s  future  safety. 
It  appeared  that  during  my  absence  he  had  given  way  to  the 
desire  of  providing  something  to  eat,  and  had  left  the  fire  to 
burn  out,  while  he  foraged  for  roots.  On  returning  he  saw 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


75 


a huge  puma  couched  by  the  extinct  ashes  of  the  fire.  Just, 
however,  as  Arica  was  about  to  fire  the  revolver  which  I had 
lent  him,  the  beast  bounded  away  into  the  bushes.  But  as 
he  was  convinced  that  the  puma  was  close  at  hand  waiting 
for  an  opportunity  to  attack,  he  spent  several  hours  on  the 
watch  with  his  revolver  ready.  His  delight  may  be  imagined 
when,  worn  out  with  want  of  food  and  rest,  he  was  relieved 
by  the  arrival  of  the  Indian  with  the  meat  and  a horse  for 
him  to  ride. 

The  next  day  we  made  a short  march  up  the  river  valley, 
the  caravan  of  women  and  horses,  as  usual,  proceeding  along 
the  track,  while  the  men  hunted  in  the  adjacent  plains.  I 
was  fortunate  enough  in  the  hunt  to  kill  a guanaco  and  an 
ostrich,  and  duly  shared  them  with  Casimiro.  The  order  of 
march  and  method  of  hunting  which  constitute  the  daily 
routine  are  as  follow  s : the  Cacique,  who  has  the  ordering  of 
the  marching  and  hunting,  comes  out  of  his  toldo  at  daylight, 
sometimes  indeed  before,  and  delivers  a loud  oration, 
describing  the  order  of  march,  the  appointed  place  of 
hunting,  and  the  general  programme ; he  then  exhorts  the 
young  men  to  catch  and  bring  up  the  horses,  and  be  alert 
and  active  in  the  hunt,  enforcing  his  admonition,  by  way  of 
a wind  up,  with  a boastful  relation  of  his  own  deeds  of 
prowess  when  he  was  young.  Sometimes  the  women,  while 
the  chief  is  haranguing,  rekindle  or  blow  up  the  embers  of  the 
fire  and  prepare  a slight  breakfast,  but  nothin  variably.  Some 
cold  meat  is  also  occasionally  reserved  from  the  evening 
meal,  and  placed  in  a hide  bag  to  be  carried  with  them  on 
the  march,  to  be  given  to  the  children  when  they  are  hungry. 
But  the  general  custom  for  the  men  is  to  wait  until  the  day’s 
hunt  has  supplied  fresh  meat.  When  the  Cacique’s  ‘ oration’ 
— which  is  very  little  attended  to — is  over,  the  young  men 
and  boys  lazo  and  bring  up  the  horses,  and  the  women  place 
on  their  backs  the  bolster  of  reeds,  tied  with  hide  thongs, 
mantles,  and  coloured  blankets,  which  form  their  saddles  ; 
others  are  strapping  their  belts  on,  or  putting  their  babies 


76 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


into  wickerwork  cradles,  or  rolling  up  the  skins  that  form 
the  coverings  of  the  toldos,  and  placing  them  and  the  poles 
on  the  baggage  horses  ; last  of  all  the  small  breakers,  which 
are  carried  on  the  march,  are  filled  with  water.  The  women 
mount  by  means  of  a sling  round  the  horses’  necks,  and  sit 
astride  of  their  bolster-saddles  ; their  babies — if  they  possess 
any — and  their  pet  dogs  are  hoisted  up,  the  babies  being 
stowed  in  the  cradles  behind  them ; then  they  take  their 
baggage-horses  in  tow  and  start  off  in  single  file.  The  men, 
who  generally  wait  until  all  are  ready,  then  drive  the  spare 
horses  for  a short  distance,  and  having  handed  them  over  to 
the  charge  of  their  wives  or  daughters,  retire  to  a neigh- 
bouring bush,  where  a fire  is  kindled,  pipes  are  lighted,  and 
the  hunt  commenced  in  the  following  manner.  Two  men 
start  off  and  ride  at  a gallop  round  a certain  area  of  country, 
varying  according  to  the  number  of  the  party,  lighting  fires 
at  intervals  to  mark  their  track.  After  the  lapse  of  a few 
minutes  two  others  are  despatched,  and  so  on  until  only  a 
few  are  left  with  the  cacique.  These  spread  themselves  out 
in  a crescent,  closing  in  and  narrowing  the  circle  on  a point 
where  those  first  started  have  by  this  time  arrived.  The 
crescent  rests  on  a baseline  formed  by  the  slowly-proceeding 
line  of  women,  children,  and  baggage-horses.  The  ostriches 
and  herds  of  guanaco  run  from  the  advancing  party,  but  are 
checked  by  the  pointsmen,  and  when  the  circle  is  well  closed 
in  are  attacked  with  the  bolas,  two  men  frequently  chasing 
the  same  animal  from  different  sides.  The  dogs  also  assist 
in  the  chase,  hut  the  Indians  are  so  quick  and  expert  with 
the  bolas  that  unless  their  horses  are  tired,  or  they  happen 
to  have  gambled  away  their  bolas,  the  dogs  are  not  much 
called  into  use.  Puma  are  very  frequently  found  in  the 
circles,  and  quickly  despatched  by  a blow  on  the  head  from 
a ball.  On  one  occasion  I saw  Waki  completely  crush,  by  a 
single  blow,  the  skull  of  an  unusually  large  one.  The 
Indian  law  of  division  of  the  game  prevents  all  disputes,  and 
is  as  follows.  The  man  who  halls  the  ostrich  leaves  it  for 


WAKl  KILLING  A PUMA, 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


77 

the  other,  who  has  been  chasing  with  him,  to  carry  or  take 
eharge  of,  and  at  the  end  of  the  hunt  it  is  divided ; the 
feathers  and  body  from  the  head  to  the  breast-hone  and  one 
leg  belonging  to  the  captor,  the  remainder  to  the  assistant. 
In  the  case  of  guanaco,  the  first  takes  the  best  half  in  the 
same  manner;  the  lungs,  heart,  liver,  kidneys,  and  the  fat 
and  marrow  bones  are  sometimes  eaten  raw.  The  Tehuelches 
also  cut  out  the  fat  over  the  eyes,  and  the  gristly  fat  between 
the  thigh  joints,  which  they  eat  with  great  gusto,  as  also  the 
heart  and  blood  of  the  ostrich.  Owing  to  the  entire  absence 
of  farinaceous  food,  fat  becomes  a necessary  article  of  diet, 
and  can  be  consumed  in  much  larger  quantities  than  in  more 
civilised  countries.  That  this  is  not  merely  owing  to  the 
inclemency  of  the  climate  is  proved  by  the  appetite  for  fat 
which  the  gauchos  in  the  Argentine  provinces  acquire. 
When  the  hunt  is  finished,  and  the  birds  cut  up  and  divided, 
fires  are  kindled,  and  whilst  stones  are  heating  the  ostrich  is 
plucked,  the  wing  feathers  being  carefully  tied  together  with 
a piece  of  sinew.  The  bird  is  then  laid  on  its  back  and 
drawn ; the  legs  are  carefully  skinned  down,  and  the  bone 
taken  out,  leaving  the  skin ; the  carcase  is  then  separated 
into  two  halves,  and  the  backbone  having  been  extracted 
from  the  lower  half,  and  the  meat  sliced  so  as  to  admit  the 
heated  stones  laid  in  between  the  sections,  it  is  tied  up  like 
a bag,  secured  by  the  skin  of  the  legs,  with  a small  bone 
thrust  through  to  keep  all  taut ; this  is  placed  on  the  live 
embers  of  the  fire,  a light  blaze  being  kindled  when  it  is 
nearly  done  to  perfectly  roast  the  outside  meat.  During  the 
process  of  cooking  it  has  to  be  turned  frequently  to  ensure 
all  parts  being  thoroughly  cooked.  When  ready  it  is  taken 
off  the  fire,  and  the  top  part  being  cut  off  and  the  stones 
extracted,  the  broth  and  meat  are  found  deliciously  cooked. 
The  party,  generally  consisting  of  twos  or  fours,  sit  round 
the  dish  and  eat  the  meat,  sopping  it  in  the  broth.  The  back 
part,  which  consists  nearly  altogether  of  fat  (when  the  ostrich 
is  in  good  condition),  is  then  divided,  pieces  being  given  to 


78 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


each,  and  reserved  as  tid-bits  for  the  women  and  children. 
When  the  head  and  breast  half  are  to  he  cooked,  the  bone  is 
not  extracted,  but  the  wings  turned  inside  and  the  breast 
cavity  filled  with  heated  stones,  and  tied  up  with  half  of  the 
skin  of  the  legs,  which  have  been  divided,  additional  pieces 
of  meat  from  the  legs  having  been  placed  in  the  breast  cavity. 
The  fat  of  the  breast  is  divided  amongst  the  party  at  the 
fireside,  the  owner  in  all  cases  reserving  none  or  a very 
small  piece  for  himself,  as  the  others  who  are  cooking  at  the 
same  fire  are  sure  to  give  him  plenty.  The  cacique  gene- 
rally receives  the  largest  share,  or  if  he  is  not  present,  the 
greatest  friends  of  the  owner.  The  wing  feathers  are  care- 
fully taken  to  the  toldos  and  stored  with  others  for  future 
trade.  The  ostrich  is  most  thoroughly  eaten  ; the  gizzard, 
which  is  large  enough  to  fill  both  hands,  being  carefully 
cooked  by  the  insertion  of  a hot  stone  and  roasted ; the 
eyes,  too,  are  sucked,  and  the  tripe  devoured  ; but  when  the 
birds  are  thin  they  are  simply  skinned,  and  the  carcase  left 
to  the  pumas.  After  the  meal,  concluding  the  hunt,  is 
finished,  a pipe  is  handed  round,  saddles  are  re-adjusted, 
and  the  game  placed  on  them,  and  the  party  adjourn  to  the 
toldos,  which  by  this  time  have  been  pitched  and  arranged 
by  the  women. 

Guanaco  are  not  much  killed,  unless  a long  stay  in  a place 
is  intended,  or  an  Indian  feels  inclined  for  blood,  or  ostriches, 
which  are  always  eaten  in  preference,  are  scarce.  The  meat 
of  the  guanaco  is,  however,  excellent ; the  haunches  are 
generally  what  is  termed  in  Spanish  ‘ charqueared,’  which 
means  that  the  meat  is  cut  off  in  thin  slices,  and  after  a 
little  salt  has  been  sprinkled  over  it,  is  dried  in  the  sun. 
When  thoroughly  dried  it  is  roasted  in  the  ashes,  pounded 
between  two  stones,  and  mixed  with  ostrich  or  other  grease ; 
this  preparation,  like  pemmican,  is  very  useful  for  a man 
going  a long  journey,  as  it  can  be  carried  in  a small  compass, 
and  a mere  handful  satisfies  the  appetite. 

It  would  be  tedious  to  describe  every  day’s  march,  and  the 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


79 


routine  of  hunting,  as  we  made  our  way  slowly  up  the  valley 
of  the  Rio  Chico,  which  was  still  frozen  over.  The  weather 
was  cold,  and  occasional  showers  of  snow  accompanied  the 
strong  piercing  westerly  winds  which  blew  every  day.  The 
valley  sometimes  opened  out  into  wide  grass-covered  plains, 
dotted  with  incense-bushes,  then  rose  again  in  huge  hare 
ridge  and  furrow-like  undulations.  Occasionally  there  oc- 
curred patches  of  swampy  ground  with  frozen  lagoons,  and 
here  and  there  open  springs,  the  resort  of  numerous  water- 
fowl.  The  hills  on  the  northern  side  appeared  bare  and 
rugged,  rising  abruptly  out  of  irregular  forms,  while  the 
southern  heights  were  lower,  and  presented  more  of  the  steep 
declivities  known  as  barrancas,  interrupted  at  intervals  by 
high  rugged  hills  of  basalt,  often  assuming  the  appearance 
of  ruined  castles,  closing  in  at  the  bends  of  the  winding 
river.  To  one  of  these — a remarkable  hill  under  which  we 
were  encamped  on  August  23,  about  120  miles  from  Santa 
Cruz — I gave  the  name  of  Sierra  Ventana,  from  a window- 
like opening  through  its  peak  ; the  Indians  called  it  Mowaish. 
(See  Illustration.)  In  many  places  the  bases  of  these  hills 
were  formed  entirely  of  a description  of  lava,  and  one  of  the 
Chilians  informed  me  that  whilst  passing  over  a ridge,  he 
had  observed  several  large  masses  of  pure  iron  : this,  how- 
ever, I was  inclined  to  disbelieve,  as  although  farther  up  the 
country  iron  ore  exists  in  large  quantities,  I only  observed  in 
this  part  a species  of  ore  similar  to  that  common  at  Drobak, 
in  Norway. 

On  one  occasion,  while  marching,  we  observed  smoke  in 
our  rear,  which  was  thought  to  be  caused  either  by  a mes- 
senger in  search  of  us  announcing  the  arrival  of  the  schooner, 
or  else  by  a party  of  the  Southern  Indians  who  had  some  idea 
of  marching  north.  However,  no  scout  was  sent  back  to 
discover  the  truth,  so  we  remained  in  ignorance.  On  the 
2*ith  ' we  halted,  and  encamped  by  the  side  of  the  river  in  a 
broad  opening  of  the  valley;  here  there  was  a lagoon,  not 
completely  frozen,  in  which  grew  a description  of  flag,  of 


80 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


which  the  root,  or  rather  lower  stein,  is  eaten  by  the  Indians, 
and  is  succulent  and  juicy,  with  a pleasant  taste.  The  boys 
and  girls  soon  brought  a large  supply  into  the  toldos.  The 
day  after  our  arrival  in  this  place,  the  attainment  of  the  age 
of  puberty  of  one  of  the  girls  was  celebrated  according  to 
custom.  Early  in  the  morning  the  father  of  the  child  in- 
formed the  cacique  of  the  event,  the  cacique  thereupon  offi- 
cially communicated  the  intelligence  to  the  acting  doctor  or 
medicine-man,  and  a considerable  shouting  was  set  up,  while 
the  doctor  adorned  himself  with  white  paint  and  was  bled  in 
the  forehead  and  arms  with  a sharp  bodkin.  The  women 
immediately  set  to  work  to  sew  a number  of  ‘ mandils  ’ 
together.  When  the  patchwork  was  finished,  it  was  taken 
with  pomp  and  ceremony  by  a band  of  young  men,  who 
marched  round  the  poles — already  fixed  to  form  a temporary 
toldo — singing,  whilst  the  women  joined  in  with  the  most 
dismal  incantations  and  howlings.  After  marching  round 
several  times,  the  covering  was  drawn  over  the  poles,  and 
lances  were  stuck  in  front,  adorned  with  bells,  streamers,  and 
brass  plates  that  shook  and  rattled  in  the  breeze,  the  whole 
thing  when  erected  presenting  a very  gay  appearance  (its 
Indian  name  literally  meaning  ‘ The  pretty  house  ’).  The 
girl  was  then  placed  in  an  inner  part  of  the  tent,  where 
nobody  was  admitted.  After  this  everybody  mounted,  and 
some  were  selected  to  bring  up  the  horses,  out  of  which 
certain  mares  and  fillies  were  chosen,  and  brought  up  in 
front  of  the  showy  toldo,  where  they  were  knocked  on  the 
head  by  a ball — thus  saving  the  blood  (which  was  secured  in 
pots)  to  be  cooked,  being  considered  a great  delicacy.  It  is 
a rule  amongst  the  Indians  that  any  one  assisting  to  take  off 
the  hide  of  a slaughtered  mare  is  entitled  to  a piece  of  meat, 
but  the  flesh  was  on  this  occasion  distributed  pretty  equally 
all  round.  Whilst  the  meat  was  cooking,  Casimiro,  who  was 
ruler  of  the  feast,  sent  a message  for  me  to  come  to  Crime’s 
toldo,  where  I found  him  busy  working  at  a saddle,  in  the 
construction  of  which  he  was,  by  the  way,  an  adept.  His 


THE  <i  PRETTY  HOUSE”  AND  DANCE. 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


81 


wife  had  a large  iron  pot  bubbling  on  the  fire,  containing  some 
of  the  blood  mixed  with  grease.  When  the  mess  was  nearly 
cooked,  we  added  a little  pepper  and  salt,  and  commenced 
the  feast.  Previous  to  this  I bad  felt  a sort  of  repugnance  to 
eating  horse,  as  perhaps  most  Englishmen — except,  indeed, 
the  professed  bippopbagists — have  ; but  hunger  overcame 
all  scruples,  and  I soon  acquired  quite  a taste  for  this  meat. 
On  this  occasion  everybody  ate  where  they  liked,  in  their 
own  toldos.  Casimiro  informed  me,  after  the  meal  was  con- 
cluded, that  there  would  be  a dance  in  the  evening.  I looked 
forward  with  great  anticipation  to  this  ‘ small  and  early,’ 
and  shortly  saw  some  of  the  women  proceed  to  collect  a con- 
siderable quantity  of  firewood,  which  was  placed  outside  the 
tent.  Presently,  towards  dusk,  a fire  was  made,  first  outside 
the  sacred  precincts.  The  women  all  sat  down  on  the  grass 
round  about,  but  at  some  distance  from  the  men,  who  were 
all  seated  on  the  grass,  except  four  and  the  musicians.  The 
orchestra  consisted  of  a drum  made  by  stretching  a piece  of 
hide  over  a bowl,  also  a sort  of  wind  instrument  formed  of 
the  thigh-bone  of  a guanaco,  with  holes  bored  in  it,  which  is 
placed  to  the  mouth  and  played,  or  with  a short  bow  having 
a horsehair  string.  When  all  was  ready,  some  of  the  old 
hags  all  the  time  singing  in  their  melodious  way,  the  band 
struck  up,  and  four  Indians,  muffled  up  in  blankets,  so  that 
their  eyes  only  were  visible,  and  their  heads  adorned  with 
ostrich  plumes,  marched  into  the  ring,  and  commenced 
pacing  slowly  round  the  fire,  keeping  time  to  the  music. 
After  two  or  three  promenades,  the  time  gradually  quickened, 
until  they  went  at  a sort  of  trot  ; and  about  the  fifth  round, 
dancing  fast  to  the  music,  they  threw  away  their  mantles,  and 
•exhibited  themselves  adorned  with  white  paint  daubed  all  over 
their  bodies,  each  having  a girdle  of  bells  extending  from 
the  shoulder  to  the  hip,  which  jingled  in  tune  to  their  steps. 
The  first  four  consisted  of  the  chiefs  Casimiro,  Orkeke,  Crime, 
and  Camillo,  who,  after  dancing  with  great  action  (just 
avoiding  stepping  into  the  fire),  and  bowing  their  plumed 

6 


82 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


heads  grotesquely  on  either  side  to  the  beats  of  the  drum, 
retired  for  a short  time  to  rest  themselves,  after  which  they 
appeared  again  and  danced  a different  step.  When  that  was 
over,  four  more  appeared,  and  so  on,  until  every  one,  including 
the  hoys,  had  had  a fling.  Sometimes,  to  give  greater  effect, 
the  performers  carried  a bunch  of  rushes  in  one  hand.  About 
nine  p.ji.,  everybody  having  had  enough,  Casimiro  gave  the 
sign.  The  band  stopped  playing,  and  all  retired  to  bed. 
The  dancing  was  not  ungraceful,  but  was  rendered  grotesque 
by  the  absurd  motions  of  the  head.  It  was  strictly  confined 
to  the  men,  the  women  being  only  allowed  to  look  on. 

On  the  second  day’s  march  from  the  scene  of  my  first 
Indian  hall  we  crossed  a rocky  ridge  abounding  with  a de- 
scription of  vesicular  lava ; the  ridge  ran  out  from  the 
southern  limits  of  the  valley  and  terminated  in  precipitous 
cliffs,  round  the  base  of  which  wound  the  river.  The  surface 
of  the  ridge  was  fissured  in  many  places  with  deep  chasms 
like  Alpine  crevasses,  on  the  brink  of  one  of  which  my  horse 
stopped  just  in  time  to  escape  a fall.  The  caravan  had  gone 
a more  circuitous  route  to  take  advantage  of  the  lowest  and 
easiest  crest.  On  the  other  side  of  the  ridge  the  valley  sud- 
denly spread  out  to  the  extent  of  several  miles,  and  on  the 
western  horizon  a line  of  snowy  peaks  was  visible,  their 
summits  capped  with  clouds  : this  was  our  first  view  of  the 
Cordillera.  The  low  ground  was  cut  up  by  streams  and 
small  lakelets  of  water,  formed  by  the  overflow  of  a small 
fork  of  the  river,  which  glistening  in  the  afternoon  sun- 
shine presented  a beautiful  silvery  appearance,  very  refresh- 
ing to  the  eye  wearied  with  alternate  gazing  on  withered 
grass  and  black  volcanic  rocks.  However  beautiful  to  look 
at,  this  scene  would  clearly  prove  difficult  travelling,  so  a 
halt  was  called,  and  our  course  debated  on  ; ultimately  it 
was  resolved  to  cross  the  river  and  encamp  on  the  northern 
bank,  where  the  ground  was  higher  and  free  from  floods,  so 
loads  were  carefully  adjusted,  and  children  transferred  to  the 
arms  of  the  men,  to  give  the  women  more  freedom  of  action : 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


S3 


baggage-horses  were  also  taken  in  tow  by  the  young  men, 
and  Casimiro  and  another  volunteering  to  lead  the  van  and 
act  as  pilots,  we  proceeded  to  make  our  way  to  the  river-bank, 
which  rose  by  a gradual  elevation  from  the  lower  inundated 
plain.  After  much  floundering  about  in  water-holes,  and 
various  spills,  which  caused  great  merriment,  especially  when 
Mrs.  Orkeke  and  all  her  gear  came  down  by  the  run,  an  iron 
kettle  of  which  she  was  very  proud  clattering  down  so  as  to 
frighten  several  of  the  horses  into  what  threatened  to  become 
a general  stampede,  the  bank  was  safely  reached ; the  river 
was  swollen  high,  and  its  rapid  current  running  six  or  seven 
miles  an  hour,  was  bringing  down  huge  sharp-edged  masses 
of  ice.  It  seemed  almost  impossible  for  the  women  and 
baggage  animals  to  cross.  However,  Orkeke,  taking  a long 
pole  to  sound  with,  led  the  way,  and  by  watching  their 
opportunity  to  dodge  the  floating  ice,  which  cut  the  horses’ 
and  riders’  legs  cruelly,  all  got  safely  over.  A wilder 
scene  could  hardly  be  imagined — dogs  howling  on  the  bank 
fearing  to  pass,  women  singing  out  to  their  various  friends 
and  relations,  and  here  and  there  an  adventurous  Indian, 
who  scorned  to  go  by  the  ford  with  the  rest,  disappearing 
for  a second  in  the  river,  horse  and  all,  but  ultimately 
emerging  some  distance  down  the  stream.  The  water  was 
bitterly  cold,  as  may  be  imagined,  and  the  piercing  wind  be- 
numbed our  dripping  bodies  ; so  on  arriving  at  the  north  bank, 
where  there  were  some  small  sandy  hillocks,  we  kindled  a large 
fire,  and  had  a warm  and  a smoke  whilst  the  women  were 
employed  pitching  the  toldos.  It  had  been  decided  to  remain 
here  some  days  and  then  proceed  to  the  vicinity  of  the  Cordil- 
lera for  the  purpose  of  catching  wild  horses.  But,  as  will  be 
seen  shortly,  ‘ L’homme  propose  et  Dieu  dispose.’  Looking 
up  towards  the  Cordillera  from  our  encampment,  the  valley 
appeared  to  expand  a few  miles  up  into  one  immense  plain, 
and  the  Indians  informed  me  that  before  reaching  the  moun- 
tains there  is  a great  drop  or  basin  where  the  wild  horses  are 
found.  This  was  probably,  at  the  period  of  our  visit,  a vast 


84 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


sheet  of  water  from  the  melting  snows.  Lake  Yiedma  lies 
some  miles  to  the  southward  from  the  head  of  the  valley, 
and  I should  be  inclined  to  think  that  the  course  of  the  Rio 
Chico,  which  undoubtedly  flows  from  it,  would  be  found  to 
come  from  the  south  to  north,  and  bend  easterly  at  the  head 
of  the  valley,  where  it  unites  the  numerous  streams  as 
described  by  Yiedma  in  his  journey  in  1580.  I am  also  in- 
clined to  think  that  Viedma  being  taken  twice  across  the 
Rio  Chico  mistook  the  river  at  the  second  crossing  for 
another,  which  he  has  marked  as  the  Chalia,  a name,  by 
the  way,  unknown  to  the  Indians,  save  as  applied  to  an  un- 
savoury parasite  only  too  common  among  them.  The  follow- 
ing morning,  September  2,  we  were  sitting  quietly  round 
the  fire  discussing  a breakfast  of  boiled  ostrich  prepared  by 
the  lady  of  the  house,  when  suddenly  the  clash  of  knives 
was  heard,  and  we  saw  two  Indians,  destitute  of  mantles, 
with  naked  swords  in  their  hands,  run  across  from  Camillo’s 
to  Crime’s  toldo.  In  a minute  everything  was  in  an  uproar ; 
arms  were  produced,  guns  and  revolvers  loaded,  and  some  of 
the  Indians  equipped  themselves  in  coats  of  mail,  and  others, 
with  the  assistance  of  the  women,  padded  themselves  about 
the  chest  and  upper  part  of  the  body  with  thick  blankets 
and  corconillas  or  saddle-cloths.  Knowing  what  was  about 
to  happen,  the  women,  and  with  them  all  the  Chilian  de- 
serters, except  one,  beat  a retreat  to  a safe  distance  from 
the  toldos.  Having  assumed  my  arms,  and  feeling  thoroughly 
mystified  as  to  the  real  cause  of  this  excitement,  I went  to 
Camillo’s  toldo,  where  the  scene  explained  itself.  He  was 
lying  on  his  bed  dead,  with  a frightful  gash  in  his  side, 
having  been  murdered  by  Cuastro,  one  of  the  Indians  whom 
we  had  seen  running  to  Crime’s  tents.  On  issuing  from  the 
toldo  Casimiro  met  me,  and  asked  for  a revolver,  as  he  had 
no  firearms,  and  I lent  him  one  accordingly.  The  Indians 
showed  by  their  changed  countenance  all  the  fury  of  fight ; 
their  very  complexions  seemed  ghastly,  and  their  eyes  glared 
and  rolled,  seeming  to  see  blood.  The  two  opposing  parties, 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


85 


the  Southern  Indians — friends  of  Crime,  who  was  a cousin 
of  Cuastro — and  Orkeke’s  and  Casimiro’s  people,  or  the 
Northern  party,  were  soon  ranged  in  open  line  at  some 
twenty  yards  distance  from  each  other.  Cuastro  was  con- 
spicuous by  his  tunic  or  ‘ buff  coat  ’ of  hide  studded  with 
silver,  while  his  only  weapon  was  a single  sword  or  rapier. 
The  fight  commenced  with  an  irregular  discharge  of  guns 
and  revolvers,  which  lasted  a few  minutes,  till  some  of  the 
Northern  or  Orkeke’s  Indians,  led  by  Casimiro,  closed  up, 
and  a hand-to-hand  contest  with  swords  and  lances  took 
place,  resulting  in  the  death  of  Cuastro  and  the  severe 
wounding  of  two  or  three  Southern  Indians.  The  Northerns 
then  drew  off  to  reload,  and  were  about  to  renew  the  action, 
when  Tankelow  proposed  a truce,  which  was  accepted  on  the 
understanding  that  both  parties  were  to  march  at  once  in 
the  same  direction.  The  women  and  children  were  then 
recalled  from  the  bushes  whither  they  had  retired,  the  horses 
brought  up,  and  the  dead  buried.  The  Tehuelches’  lance  is 
entirely  different  to  that  of  the  Araucanos  or  Pampas,  and  is 
only  used  when  fighting  on  foot ; it  consists  of  a heavy  shaft 
eighteen  feet  in  length,  at  the  extremity  of  which  a blade 
is  fixed  about  eighteen  inches  long,  constituting  a most 
formidable  weapon  in  the  hands  of  an  expert  Indian,. 
Cayuke,  whom  I have  before  mentioned,  in  this  fight  was 
armed  with  the  lance,  and  ran  Cuastro  through  the  bodjy, 
although  protected  by  his  mail  and  endeavouring  to  parry 
the  point  with  a sword.  This  Cuastro  was  a brave  man  ; 
when  dying,  with  several  bullets  in  his  body,  and  several 
lance  thrusts,  he  sprang  up  to  his  full  height  and  called  out, 
‘ I die  as  I have  lived — no  cacique  orders  me ; ’ his  wife 
then  rushed  up  to  him  crying  and  sobbing,  but  he  fell  down 
dead  at  the  same  moment.  Casimiro  had  a nanw  escape  ; 
he  parried  a blow  of  a sword  with  what  may  be  termed  the 
slack  part  of  his  mantle,  hut  if  the  blow  had  caught  him  on 
the  head,  as  intended,  it  would  have  ended  his  career  then 
and  there.  The  casualties  were  a wound  in  Crime’s  leg,  and 


86 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


a lance  thrust  clean  through  the  thigh  of  Hummums,  a young 
Indian,  who  seemed  to  care  very  little  about  it.  The  fight 
originated  out  of  a vendetta  between  Cuastro  and  Camillo, 
the  latter  having  some  years  before  caused  the  death  of  a 
member  of  the  family  of  the  former,  who  had  on  a previous 
occasion  endeavoured  to  avenge  it  on  Camillo,  and  he 
had  only  attached  himself  to  our  party,  in  company  with 
Crime,  in  order  to  obtain  an  opportunity  of  assassinating 
Camillo.  This  Cuastro  had  been  suspected  on  good  grounds  of 
making  away  with  Mendoza,  the  Argentine  sent  from  Buenos 
Ayres  in  company  with  Casimiro,  and  who  mysteriously 
disappeared  ; and  he  had  certainly,  when  under  the  influence 
of  rum,  at  Santa  Cruz,  murdered  his  own  wife  Juana,  a 
daughter  of  Casimiro,  so  that  brave  as  he  was  he  had  richly 
deserved  the  fate  he  met  with. 

After  the  obsequies  of  the  dead  had  been  hurriedly  per- 
formed— a description  of  which  is  reserved  for  another  place 
— the  tents  were  struck,  and  all  marched  off,  the  men  re- 
maining armed,  and  each  party  travelling  separately.  Cayuke 
was  sent  back  some  miles  to  ascertain  if  there  were  any  signs 
of  the  other  Southern  Indians,  who  were  half  expected  to 
' overtake  us  ; but  he  returned  some  hours  later  with  no  intel- 
ligence. We  marched  a few  miles  up  the  valley,  rather 
coasting  the  northern  hills,  and  encamped  by  a most  beautiful 
circular  spring,  the  water  bubbling  up  through  pure  white 
sau(d  and  forming  a tiny  brook,  while  little  fishes  darted 
across  in  the  basin.  The  Indians  still  remained  with  arms 
ready  to  hand — were  very  silent  and  ate  nothing.  Several 
of  the  Northerns  came  into  our  toldo  towards  evening,  and 
remained  a long  time  conversing  by  the  embers  of  the  fire, 
and  ever  and  anon  one  of  the  widows  of  the  deceased  would 
break  out  into  a wail  of  lamentation,  sobbing  in  the  most 
dismal  and  melancholy  manner,  the  lament  at  times  being 
taken  up  by  some  of  the  older  hags. 

On  the  following  day  Crime  sent  for  me  to  dress  his  leg, 
imagining,  of  course,  that  I undertook  surgery;  so  I washed 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


87 


the  wound  and  bandaged  it  with  cold  water  bandages,  which 
appeared  to  be  successful,  as  in  a few  days  it  inconvenienced 
him  but  little.  Thence  proceeding  to  Casimiro’s  toldo — the 
smallest  I ever  saw — I got  him  to  cover  my  saddle  with  a 
guanaco  skin  I had  obtained  on  the  road.  The  children  ap- 
peared to  be  the  only  members  of  the  party  unaffected  by  the 
prevailing  gloom.  They  had  found  a snow-bank  in  a nook,  and 
amused  themselves  sliding  down  it  on  a bit  of  wood  a la  Ru-sse. 
This  evening  things  looked  very  black  again.  A consultation 
was  held  in  Orkeke’s  toldo,  and  although  it  was  carried  on  in 
a low  tone,  and  I was  little  conversant  with  the  Tehuelche 
tongue,  I heard  my  name  frequently  mentioned  in  connection 
with  a revolver,  and  also  the  Chilians.  I was  much  puzzled 
at  what  was  going  on,  but  as  Mrs.  Orkeke  brought  me  some 
supper  in  the  most  gracious  and  smiling  manner,  did  not 
trouble  myself  more  than  to  overhaul  my  arms  quietly,  and 
see  they  were  ready  for  use.  I subsequently  found  out  that 
a plot  had  been  set  on  foot  amongst  the  Chilians  to  rise,  rob, 
and  murder  the  Indians,  and  escape  with  the  horses.  Some, 
however,  my  informant  among  the  number,  refused  to  join. 
The  Indians,  who  are  naturally  quick-sighted,  had  conceived 
a suspicion  that  all  was  not  right,  and  were  debating  whether 
it  would  not  be  better  to  kill  the  Chilians  at  once,  before 
they  became  more  troublesome  ; but  Casimiro  prevailed  on 
them  to  let  them  remain  until  they  did  something  to 
necessitate  their  destruction  ; and  so  they  escaped  for  the 
present. 

September  5th,  at  an  early  hour,  we  were  awoke  by 
Orkeke’s  marching  harangue  ; and  after  coasting  the  hills 
bordering  the  valley  for  a few  miles,  bade  adieu  to  the  valley 
of  the  Rio  Chico,  and  struck  into  a gorge  of  the  northern 
hills,  leading  into  an  uneven  valley  lying  between  low  irre- 
gular hills  of  decomposed  lava,  which  we  followed,  passing 
several  small  lagoons  in  the  lower  hollows,  around  which 
there  was  invariably  a yellow  description  of  clay.  The  hills 
were  everywhere  covered  with  scrub,  and  presented  a wild, 


88 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


bleak  appearance,  the  grey  rocks  only  appearing  now  and 
then.  After  some  hours’  travelling  through  ,this  dismal  dis- 
trict in  a north-west  course,  we  emerged  on  a large  plain  at 
the  western  side,  bounded  by  a range  of  hills  1,000  feet  high, 
forming  a spur  of  the  Cordillera.  The  weather  wras  stormy, 
and  we  could  only  catch  occasional  glimpses,  through  the 
driving  clouds  and  snow-storms,  of  the  loftier  peaks  of  the 
more  distant  mountains.  Our  expedition  in  search  of  wild 
horses  was,  of  course,  after  the  recent  trouble,  abandoned ; 
and  forced  marches,  to  escape  the  Southern  Indians,  in  the 
event  of  their  following  from  Santa  Cruz,  were  the  order  of 
the  day.  Hunting,  however,  was  resumed  by  the  unwounded, 
and  several  ostriches  were  caught  during  the  day.  Towards 
evening  the  encampment  was  fixed  near  a lagoon,  the  environs 
of  which  were  barren,  and  destitute  of  anything  except  a 
small  low  shrub  which  served  as  firewood.  Although  the 
wind  was  northerly,  it  was  bitterly  cold  ; and  as  I had  for 
some  days  past  adopted  the  native  costume — keeping  my 
1 store  clothes  ’ stowed  away  under  charge  of  Mrs.  Orkeke — 
I felt  it  exceedingly.  The  6th,  7th,  and  8th  of  September  were 
occupied  in  making  forced  marches  northward,  accompanied 
by  the  usual  hunting ; and  although  both  parties  continued 
armed,  and  appeared  to  be  rather  suspicious  of  each  other, 
things  went  on  pretty  smoothly.  The  country  traversed  on 
the  6th  and  7th  was  a large  arid  plain,  dotted  with  a few 
stunted  shrubs,  enclosed  by  the  before-mentioned  spur  of  the 
Cordillera  on  the  western  side,  and  on  the  east  by  a low 
range  of  sandy-looking  hills.  The  whole  of  this  plain  was 
strewn  with  small  pebbles  of  porphyry,  quartz,  silicia,  and 
obsidian  ; also  with  small  pieces  of  silicified  wood.  On  the 
8th  we  crossed  the  spur  by  a pass  walled  on  either  hand  with 
rocks  of  vesicular  lava.  Here  we  halted  for  a quarter  of  an 
hour,  and  every  one  broke  off  pieces  of  stone  suitable  for 
making  hand-balls  for  bolas.  The  descent  on  the  western 
6ide  was  no  easy  matter,  the  declivity  being  strewn  with 
large  masses  of  rock  and  loose  boulders,  and  the  wind  blow- 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


89 


ing  bitterly  cold,  and  with  such  force  that  some  of  the 
women’s  horses  could  hardly  face  it.  Ultimately  all  managed 
to  reach  a spacious  elevated  pampa,  on  the  western  side  of 
which,  some  fifteen  leagues  off,  rose  the  Cordillera  of  the 
Andes.  In  the  pass  I observed  several  large  pieces  of 
obsidian,  so  clear  and  peculiarly  round-shaped  that  I at 
first  imagined  that  a demijohn  had  been  carried  thither  by 
some  previous  party  and  broken.  Of  this  the  women  gathered 
some  pieces,  to  serve  as  scrapers  for  cleaning  guanaco  skins. 
We  traversed  the  usual  barren  high  pampa — interspersed  with 
low  shrubs,  coarse  grass,  and  here  and  there  an  incense  bush 
of  considerable  size,  which  afforded  a moment’s  shelter  from 
the  cutting  wind — for  some  distance,  till  we  at  length  reached 
a cliff,  below  which  lay  a grassy  plain,  watered  by  a small, 
rapid  stream.  About  thirty  miles  in  the  background  were 
visible  the  lofty  mountains  of  the  Cordillera.  The  inviting 
appearance  of  the  pasture  determined  us  to  remain  for  a 
couple  of  days  to  rest  the  horses,  after  the  unusually  long 
marches  of  the  preceding  days.  The  following  day  was 
occupied  chiefly  in  making  hand-balls  for  bolas  from  the  soft 
porous  stone  obtained  in  the  rocky  pass.  Towards  noon  a 
frightful  gale  of  wind  sprang  up,  which  blew  down  most  of 
the  toldos  ; but  ours,  thanks  to  the  strength  of  arm  of  Mrs. 
Orkeke,  who  had  securely  fixed  the  poles,  remained  firm, 
only  one  or  two  of  the  poles  being  broken.  The  river,  here 
flowing  in  an  eastward  direction,  was  the  first  stream  met 
with  since  leaving  the  valley  of  the  Rio  Chico.  In  the 
descent  to  it,  the  bench  formation,  although  recognisable, 
was  not  so  much  marked  as  in  many  of  the  other  rivers. 
After  two  days’  rest  we  resumed  our  journey ; and  having 
traversed  the  grassy  valley  for,  perhaps,  a mile,  ascended  a 
slight  ridge  to  a higher  plain  of  the  usual  sterile  nature,  in 
which  the  first  ostrich  eggs  met  with  were  found.  Our 
course  was  directed  nearly  north-west,  to  a range  of  hills 
800  feet  in  height ; on  their  summit  was  a plateau  strewn 
with  large  stones  and  rocks. 


90 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


We  formed  another  hunt,  in  which  numerous  ostriches  and 
several  pumas  were  killed.  From  the  western  side  of  the 
plateau  we  overlooked  a large  plain,  extending  to  the  imme- 
diate vicinity  of  the  mountains,  hut  near  the  side  of  which 
there  appeared  to  be  a cutting  or  steep  descent,  just  like  a 
railway  embankment.  As  it  had  been  announced  in  the 
cacique’s  address  that  we  were  to  encamp  near  a spring  on 
the  eastern  side,  and  I had  killed  an  ostrich,  which,  after 
giving  a sharp  run  of  half  a mile,  had  been  turned  by  the 
cavalcade  of  women,  I proceeded  in  company  with  Casimiro 
and  another  to  have  some  dinner.  We  accordingly  selected 
a bush,  cooked  and  ate  bur  bird,  and  at  the  conclusion  of  our 
meal  mounted  and  proceeded  to  where  we  expected  to  find 
the  encampment.  But,  arriving  at  the  spot,  we  found 
nobody,  and  looking  over  the  plain  we  caught  a glimpse  of  a 
belated  woman  just  vanishing  down  the  cutting  above  men- 
tioned. We  accordingly  followed,  and  an  hour’s  gallop 
brought  us  up  with  the  remainder.  The  sun  had  set,  but 
the  light  of  a young  moon  enabled  us  to  make  our  way  to  the 
second  bench.  I may  say  the  formation  altogether  much 
resembled  that  of  the  river  Cuheyli ; but  the  river  which 
flowed  in  this  valley  was  of  small  size,  although,  as  we  found, 
the  banks  were  boggy  and  almost  impracticable.  The  moon 
had  by  this  time  set,  and  after  a considerable  deal  of  con- 
fusion in  the  dark,  all  got  across,  and  night  being  far  advanced 
encamped  about  a mile  to  the  northward.  When  daylight 
enabled  us  to  examine  the  locality,  we  found  ourselves  in  a 
valley  walled  in  by  lofty  abrupt  cliffs  on  both  sides,  while  a 
stream — bordered  by  marshes,  containing  numerous  snipe 
and  teal — flowed  swiftly  down  the  centre  of  the  glen.  To 
the  north  the  valley  appeared  to  bend  westwards,  so  having 
nothing  to  do,  I strolled  up  to  the  turn  and  found  that  the 
high  cliffs  ceased,  and  were  replaced  by  the  ordinary  steep 
barrancas,  covered  from  the  top  to  the  bottom  with  incense- 
bushes.  The  valley  nowhere  exceeded  a mile  in  width,  and 
the  gloom  and  oppressive  effect  of  the  prison-like  walls  of 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


91 


clifl'  rendered  it  by  no  means  a desirable  place  of  abode,  but 
the  pasture  skirting  the  marsh  was  green  and  luxuriantly 
tender.  While  I was  endeavouring  to  secure  some  ducks 
and  teal  with  the  bolas,  two  of  the  Chilians  came  up  search- 
ing for  firewood.  They  bitterly  bewailed  their  lot  in  having 
to  work  and  slave  for  a parcel  of  savages,  but  finally  forgot 
their  grievances  in  a slumber  under  a bush.  Not  caring  to 
be  supposed  to  have  been  in  their  company,  I returned  to  the 
camp,  and  examined  the  rocks,  which  were  different  to  those 
previously  observed,  showing  in  many  places  granite,  with 
schistose  veins,  and  what  appeared  to  be  a species  of  grey 
marble.  A stay  was  made  in  this  place  of  some  four  days, 
and  would  have  been  longer,  but  that  on  the  third  day  some 
of  the  party,  chiefly  boys,  who  had  strolled  away  a short  dis- 
tance, balling  small  birds,  came  in  with  the  news  that  Indians 
were  coming  from  the  south.  A scout  was  immediately  sent 
out,  horses  brought  up,  and  arms  got  ready.  Casimiro  came 
to  me  for  a supply  of  cartridges  for  the  revolver,  saying, 
‘ Now  we  shall  have  to  fight ; for  if  those  Southern  Indians 
beat  us,  they  will  spare  neither  man,  woman,  nor  child.’ 
This  was  cheering  news,  seeing  that  the  odds  were  likely  to 
be  about  ten  to  one  against  our  side.  However,  just  as  we 
wrere  mounting,  the  scout  returned  with  the  news  that  he  had 
found  no  traces  of  Indians  ; the  supposed  enemy  being  only  a 
troop  of  guanaco  coming  down  to  water.  Cayuke,  on  its 
being  ascertained  that  there  was  really  no  danger,  had  one  of 
his  horses  killed  as  a thank-offering ; the  meat  of  course 
being  distributed  for  food  amongst  his  friends.  There  is  in 
this  place,  which  is  called  by  the  Indians  ‘Amakaken,’  a 
large  spherical  boulder  of  marble,  which  it  is  the  custom  of 
the  Indians  to  try  their  strength  by  lifting.  Casimiro  in- 
formed me  that  this  stone  had  been  there  for  many  years,  and 
the  custom  was  very  old.  It  was  so  large  and  heavy  that  I 
was  just  able  to  grasp  it  with  both  arms,  and  raise  it  to  the 
level  of  my  knees,  but  some  of  the  Indians  managed  to  lift  it 
to  their  shoulders.  The  night  subsequent  to  the  false  alarm, 


92 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


snow  fell  heavily,  notwithstanding  which  on  the  following 
day  the  Indians,  who  did  not  appear  to  feel  secure,  marched 
again  in  a northerly  direction.  Before  quitting  this  valley, 
I was  fortunate  enough  to  find  an  ostrich  nest  with  four  eggs 
in  it,  which  we  devoured  later  on,  cooked  in  the  ashes  by  the 
simple  method  of  placing  the  egg  upright,  with  a hole  broken 
in  the  upper  surface,  through  which  a piece  of  stick  is  in- 
serted to  stir  round  the  yolk  and  white,  a little  salt  being 
thrown  in,  and  the  egg  turned  to  ensure  all  sides  being 
equally  done  ; the  result  being  an  omelette  in  the  shell  of 
most  appetising  flavour,  but  a novice  in  this  cookery  is  apt 
to  burn  his  fingers  in  turning  the  egg.  Towards  night  we 
entered  a dark  and  gloomy  gorge,  winding  amongst  fantastic 
and  confused  cliffs  and  peaked  hills,  thrown  together  in 
utterly  chaotic  confusion,  which  appeared  to  form  a barrier 
east  and  west.  But  it  was  impossible  accurately  to  dis- 
tinguish the  line,  so  inextricably  were  the  heights  jumbled 
together.  My  powers  of  description  are  utterly  inadequate 
to  convey  the  idea  of  the  formless  irregularity  of  this  region 
of  rocky  hills. 

At  a late  hour  we  encamped  in  a glen,  or  corrie,  apparently 
without  a second  outlet,  and  walled  in  by  frowning  cliffs, 
down  the  midst  of  which  a torrent  foamed  in  a rocky  channel. 
All  the  next  day  our  march  continued  through  a barren 
desert  of  rocks,  frequently  intersected  by  deep  ravines  with 
precipitous  cliffs,  the  faces  of  which  in  many  places  displayed 
beds  of  red  and  yellow  ochre,  visible  at  a great  distance. 
From  some  of  these  the  women,  after  a scramble,  replenished 
their  supplies  of  paint.  The  whole  face  of  this  district  was  torn 
and  tossed,  as  if  by  tremendous  explosive  force  ; and,  except 
in  some  deep-lying  clay  bottoms,  where  an  occasional  shallow 
lagoon  was  to  be  met  with,  the  track  was  waterless ; snow  lay 
on  the  heights  and  in  some  places  on  the  ground  traversed  by 
our  march,  in  the  course  of  which  a number  of  the  large  ibises, 
called  in  Chili  bandurria  (Theristicus  melanopis),  were  seen. 
The  nature  of  the  country  rendered  hunting  laborious  and 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


93 


useless.  Tankelow,  however,  found  an  ostrich  and  nest,  the 
eggs  from  which,  about  thirty  in  number,  he,  according  to 
Indian  custom,  divided  among  those  who  came  up  before 
they  were  removed  from  the  nest  ; among  these  lucky  in- 
dividuals was  myself ; for,  seeing  him  make  to  the  spot,  and 
the  male  bird  get  up,  and  being  moreover,  well  mounted 
and  exceedingly  hungry,  I was  among  the  first  arrivals. 
Far  away  to  the  right  of  our  track,  extending  thirty  or  forty 
miles  eastward,  lies  a district  called  by  the  Indians  ‘ The 
Devil’s  Country,’  which,  they  assured  me,  is  never  entered, 
probably  from  the  barren  and  impracticable  nature  of  the 
surface,  which  seems,  from  description,  to  be  even  worse  than 
the  wilderness  traversed  by  us.  Beyond  this  district  there 
is  a practicable  track,  sometimes  followed  by  the  Indians, 
leading  northward,  probably  used  as  a route  to  the  Chupat ; 
but  from  that  fine  to  the  sea  the  country  is  so  impassable 
that  the  Indians  say  it  would  require  two  years  to  proceed 
by  the  sea-coast  from  Santa  Cruz  to  the  Rio  Negro.  The 
existence  of  such  tracks  as  these,  and  the  desolate  Travisias 
encountered  near  the  coast,  have  probably  caused  Patagonia 
to  be  described  as  an  arid,  almost  waterless  country ; but,  in 
reality,  after  passing  the  coast  barrier  most  of  the  interior 
abounds  in  lagoons,  springs,  and  frequent  streams  ; and,  even 
in  the  Travisias,  the  numerous  wild  animals  met  with  show 
that  water  exists. 

Towards  evening  we  left  the  snow  behind  us  ; and  de- 
scending a lofty  hill,  which  had  bounded  our  view  all  day, 
came  to  a large  swelling  down,  from  which  the  prospect  was 
far  more  encouraging.  Rolling  plains  extended  to  the  north 
and  north-east,  whilst  the  Cordillera  rose  like  a wall  on  the 
western  side.  This  hill  is  called  by  the  Indians  ‘ God’s  Hill ; ’ 
and  the  tradition,  as  communicated  by  Casimiro,  relates  that 
from  this  spot  the  Great  Spirit  dispersed  the  animals  which 
he  had  made  in  the  caverns.  But  some  of  the  animals  must 
have  remained  behind,  as,  out  on  the  lower  slope  of  the 
downs,  two  pumas  were  chased  and  killed.  An  hour's  ride 


94 


A T HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


over  a sandy  plain  brought  us  to  a valley  with  a stream 
flowing  through  beautifully  green  pastures.  This  was  the 
spot  chosen  for  our  encamping,  and  some  of  the  women  were 
already  busy  planting  the  poles  that  form  the  skeleton  of 
the  toldos ; so,  turning  my  horse  adrift,  I started  down  to 
the  stream,  and  after  the  luxury  of  a bath,  lay  down  and 
smoked  until  the  toldos  were  thoroughly  arranged.  The 
following  day  a short  march  was  made,  in  a north-west 
direction,  to  a valley  containing  better  pasture  ; here  it  was 
intended  to  give  the  horses  much-needed  repose.  Mean- 
while, however,  meat  fell  short,  so  a circle  was  organised ; 
my  horse  was  too  tired ; but  Orkeke,  seeing  me  standing 
unprepared,  said,  ‘ Ask  Ako  (his  pet  dog,  and  adopted  child, 
and  in  virtue  of  his  office  the  owner  of  several  horses)  to 
lend  you  a horse.’  As  Ako  had  no  objection  I was  soon 
mounted,  and  started  for  the  chase  in  high  spirits.  On  our 
previous  journey  we  had  remarked  numerous  tracks  of  what 
appeared  to  be  ostrich  near  the  ground  where  our  present 
circle  was  to  be  formed  (viz.,  in  the  direction  of  the  Cor- 
dillera), and  all  expected  to  find  plenty  of  game.  The  circle 
was  formed,  myself  going  as  one  pointsman ; and,  after 
arriving  at  the  point,  I watched  anxiously  for  some  time,  but 
the  only  animal  that  appeared  was  a male  guanaco,  which 
as  he  did  not  see  me  crouched  behind  an  incense-bush,  until 
he  came  within  shot,  I successfully  balled  and  killed.  After 
waiting  a little  longer,  and  the  Indians  being  moderately 
near  at  hand,  I changed  my  position  a few  hundred  yards, 
to  a more  likely  spot ; but  no  animals  appeared,  so  I 
proceeded  in  search  of  Orkeke,  whom  I shortly  discovered 
smoking  on  the  top  of  a small  eminence.  After  the  pipe 
had  been  passed  in  silence,  I asked  him  what  he  had  killed. 

‘ Nothing,’  was  the  answer  ; ‘ let’s  wait  and  see;  perhaps  some 
other  Indian  has  an  ostrich.’  A careful  survey,  however, 
failed  to  discover  any  one  so  lucky,  although  several  had 
killed  guanaco. , So  we  retired  to  where  my  dead  guanaco 
lay  uncovered : at  our  approach  two  or  three  condors  rose 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


95 


heavily  up  ; and  shortly  about  twenty  or  thirty  more  spread 
then-  huge  wings,  sailed  away,  and  perched  on  a neighbour- 
ing rock.  As  for  the  guanaco,  in  the  short  half  hour  of  my 
absence  it  had  been  literally  torn  to  pieces  ; so,  after  extract- 
ing and  eating  the  marrow-bones,  we  returned  to  camp,  on 
our  way  capturing  two  armadillos.  During  the  past  day  or 
two  the  temperature  had  considerably  risen  ; the  wind,  though 
westerly,  was  mild  and  genial,  and  the  Indians  affirmed  that 
farther  north  it  would  be  so  warm  that  I should  require 
some  covering  for  the  head.  We  found  on  our  return  that 
Arica  during  our  absence  had  gone  off  somewhere  on  foot. 
As  he  had  that  morning  asked  and  obtained  some  tobacco 
from  me,  it  seemed  probable  that  he  had  determined  to 
attempt  to  make  his  way  alone  to  reach  civilisation  at  some 
point  or  other.  During  our  stay  in  this  valley  Casimiro 
requested  me  to  write  a letter  for  him  to  the  commandante 
at  the  Rio  Negro,  inquiring  whether  the  Argentine  Govern- 
ment still  allowed  him  his  ration  and  pay  as  a lieut.-colonel 
in  their  service.  I also  wrote  some  letters  to  my  friends, 
but  without  much  hope  of  their  being  ‘ mailed  ; ’ though 
Casimiro  assured  me  that  when  we  joined  the  Northern 
Indians  they  would  forward  them  to  the  Araucanos,  whence 
they  might  go  on  by  the  people  who  went  to  Rio  Negro  to  fetch 
the  chief’s  allowance  of  cattle  ; remote,  however,  as  were 
all  these  contingencies,  still  it  was  a pleasure  to  write.  We 
quitted  the  valley  after  three  days’  rest,  during  which  Arica 
had  not  appeared,  and  he  was  concluded  either  to  have  fallen 
a prey  to  a puma,  or  to  have  gone  off  on  his  own  account.  We 
journeyed  all  day  over  a rough  hilly  country,  encumbered  with 
large  stones  and  occasional  patches  of  scrub  of  considerable 
height ; ostriches  abounded,  and  large  quantities  of  eggs 
were  found.  During  a long  march  of  about  thirty  miles  no 
water  was  seen  until  we  reached  the  camp  at  sunset,  situated 
in  a canon  ; but  along  the  route  an  occasional  patch  of  snow 
sufficed  to  quench  our  thirst.  As  I rode  along  in  company 
with  an  Indian  named  ‘ Tchang,’  he  began  asking  me  ques- 


96 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


tions  : first,  ‘ Who  is  cacique  of  the  English  ? ’ I explained 
to  him  that  it  was  Her  Gracious  Majesty.  ‘Is  she  married?’ 
‘ She  is  a widow.’  ‘ Has  she  any  children,  and  how  many? 
Has  she  lots  of  horses  and  mares  and  silver  ornaments  ? ’ 
And  so  on  until  I had  satisfied  him  ; after  which  he  rode 
along,  repeating,  ‘ A woman  cacique  ! A woman  cacique  ! 
Four  sons  and  five  daughters  ! Lots  of  horses,  mares,  sheep, 
and  cattle  ! ’ On  the  2'2nd  of  September  we  left  the  encamp- 
ment in  the  canon  about  sunrise,  and,  mounting  the  ridge 
on  the  north  side,  halted  close  to  the  grave  of  an  Indian ; 
the  broad  and  high  cairn  of  stones  erected  over  it  denoting 
him  to  have  been  a cacique  of  importance,  which  fact  was 
communicated  to  me  in  a low  whisper  by  Waki.  Here  a 
fire  was  made,  and  a few  stones  added  to  the  pile.  Whilst 
the  Indians  were  warming  themselves  the  sun  rose,  and  the 
view  of  the  Cordillera,  seen  through  the  clear  atmosphere, 
with  the  sun’s  first  rays  illuminating  the  snowy  mountain 
summits  with  a roseate  flush  was  magnificent.  We  pursued 
our  route  over  sandy  plains,  crossed  at  intervals  by  shallow 
streams  of  water,  and  halted  near  some  lagoons  in  a place 
called  by  the  Indians  ‘ Kinck.’ 

The  following  day  we  marched  again,  hunting  as  usual  on 
the  way.  A fat  ostrich  at  this  time  of  the  year  was  a rarity, 
but  eggs  abounded,  and  formed  the  main  staple  of  food  ; and 
the  armadillos  were  also  getting  into  condition,  and  assisted  to 
furnish  a repast  at  the  camp  fire.  On  the  27th  we  arrived 
at  a place  named  ‘ Gelgel,’  situated  on  the  banks  of  a rapid 
river,  probably  that  debouching  at  Port  Desire.  This  was 
the  point  of  divergence  from  the  northern  route  to  Patagones 
for  any  party  proceeding  to  hunt  in  the  western  plains. 
During  our  stay  in  Gelgel  we  hunted  in  the  surrounding 
country,  and  on  several  occasions  observed  columns  of  smoke 
to  the  south,  as  if  made  by  a party  approaching.  These  at 
last  appeared  nearer,  and  as  no  distinct  answer  was  made  to 
our  signal  fires,  scouts  were  sent  out,  but  returned  with  no 
information,  one,  however,  asserting  that  he  had  found  the 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


97 


tracks  of  many  horses,  but  his  known  character  as  an  in- 
corrigible bar  made  his  statement  valueless.  Still  everybody 
became  at  last  convinced  that  the  Northern  Indians  were  at 
war  with  the  Araucanos,  and  consequently  preparations  to 
fight  were  commenced.  After  a watchful  night,  all  fires  out, 
and  silence  strictly  observed,  all  armed,  and  mounting  their 
best  horses,  sallied  out.  After  a while  the  cause  of  the  whole 
disturbance  turned  out  to  be  Arica,  who  had  wandered  for 
eleven  days  on  foot,  following  our  track,  subsisting  on  birds’ 
eggs,  and  narrowly  escaping  the  pumas,  though  he  had  been 
more  than  once  attacked  by  them  in  broad  daylight,  and  had 
killed  one  with  his  knife,  his  story  being  vouched  for  by  the 
boots  he  had  contrived  to  manufacture  out  of  his  deceased 
enemy’s  skin.  He  looked  worn  and  haggard,  his  feet  were 
sore,  and  he  told  me  that  another  night  would  have  finished 
him.  The  Indians,  who — owing  to  his  desertion  and  subse- 
quent pursuit  of  us — had  been  kept  on  the  alert  all  night, 
without  fire,  and  prohibited  from  conversing,  were  naturally 
indignant,  and  wanted  to  kill  him.  But  Casimiro  and  Orkeke 
interceded  for  him,  and  he  was  brought  back  to  the  toldos 
behind  another  horseman.  Casimiro,  apropos  of  these  signal 
fires,  related  to  me  a curious  story,  as  follows.  ‘ Many  years 
ago,  when  I was  quite  young,  I was  travelling  a few  leagues 
to  the  northward,  under  my  mother’s  charge.  The  party 
encamped  near  a large  lagoon  not  far  from  the  Sengel  river, 
and  were  occupied  in  hunting  in  the  neighbourhood.  On 
several  days  in  succession  smoke  was  observed  in  different 
directions,  which  approached  nearer  and  nearer  each  time. 
Being  naturally  supposed  to  be  caused  by  the.Indians,  it  was 
answered,  and  scouts  were  at  last  sent  to  ascertain  the  cause, 
as  no  messengers  appeared.  They  returned,  however,  stating 
that  they  could  discover  nothing.  At  the  end  of  four  days 
an  Indian,  tall,  gaunt,  and  emaciated,  mounted  on  a very 
thin  mule,  arrived  in  the  camp,  and  asked  for  a chief  whose 
name  was  unknown.  The  stranger  was  taken,  as  is  cus- 
tomary, to  the  chief’s  toldo,  and  his  mule  turned  loose ; but, 

7 


98 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


strange  to  say,  it  never  moved  from  the  spot  where  it  was 
unsaddled,  and  the  Indian  during  the  time  he  remained  in 
the  toldo  neither  ate  nor  drank.  At  the  end  of  three  days  he 
mounted  his  mule,  which  appeared  as  fresh  as  when  he 
arrived,  and  rode  away  to  the  northward.  On  the  following 
day,  whilst  hunting,  a sickness  struck  the  Indians — some 
falling  dead  from  their  horses,  while  others,  though  able  to 
return  home,  only  survived  a short  time.  As  is  usual  when 
disease  breaks  out,  the  toldos  were  removed  to  some  distance 
from  each  other,  to  escape  infection,  but  many  men,  women, 
and  children  died.’  Of  the  fact  that  a plague  or  sickness 
did  cause  the  death  of  many  Indians  within  a few  days  at 
some  encampment  in  these  plains,  I received  further  and 
reliable  confirmation,  my  informant,  who  was  in  the  party, 
stating  that  the  Pampa  tribe  was  decimated. 

In  the  cliffs  above  the  river  on  the  eastern  side  of  our 
encampment  I observed  many  halls  of  sandstone  of  various 
sizes.  On  breaking  one  in  two,  a piece  of  what  seemed  to 
be  ironstone  formed  a nucleus,  around  which  layers  of  sand 
appeared  to  have  been  aggregated.  By  what  process  these 
balls  could  have  been  formed  was  to  me  a mystery ; but  they 
proved  very  handy  for  bolas,  only  requiring  to  be  slightly 
reduced  in  size.  Hunting  to  the  westward  from  the  encamp- 
ment, we  came  across  several  muddy,  or  rather  clayey  bogs, 
into  one  of  which,  when  in  full  pursuit  of  an  ostrich,  I rode, 
and  my  horse  sank  deep,  throwing  his  rider  a complete 
summersault ; and  with  much  ado  I first  picked  up  myself, 
and  then  with  greater  difficulty  extricated  my  horse  from  the 
tenacious  morass. 

After  Arica’s  return,  the  Chilians  manifested  a restless 
spirit,  and  frequently  asked  me  the  direction  of  the  Chupat 
settlement.  I replied  that  it  lay  abouf  150  leagues  to  the 
E.N.E.  from  this  point,  as  far  as  I could  judge;  but 
that  it  would  be  better  for  them  to  remain  with  the  Indians, 
and  do  the  women’s  work  of  providing  wood  and  water,  &c., 
than  to  start  off  into  a wild  and  dreary  pampa,  where  they 


THE  RIO  CHICO.  99 

would  inevitably  starve  without  a knowledge  of  the  route  or 
guides. 

During  our  stay  here  I nearly  fell  a victim  to  a matrimonial 
entanglement.  A fair  young  Indian,  whose  hair  cut  across 
the  forehead  denoted  widowhood,  moreover  having  several 
mares  and  considerable  possessions,  to  whom  I had  perhaps 
paid  some  slight  attention,  proposed  that  I should  set  up 
toldo  with  her.  This  was  quite  out  of  my  programme  of  the 
journey,  but  inasmuch  as  the  alliance  might  prove  useful,  as 
well  as  agreeable,  and  feeling  lonely  in  the  absence  of  any  par- 
ticular friend,  I half  agreed;  so  a go-between  was  despatched 
to  arrange  the  dowry,  and  it  was  settled  that  I should  give  a 
revolver  in  exchange  for  two  horses  to  be  provided  by  the 
fair  one’s  friends.  However,  the  evening  before  the  happy 
day  on  which  we  were  to  have  been  united,  the  alarm  came, 
and  as  she  belonged  to  the  Southern  Indians,  I thought 
better  of  giving  up  my  arms ; so  I assigned  as  a reason  for 
withdrawing  from  my  bargain,  that  I did  not  wish  to  leave 
my  friend  Orkeke’s  toldo.  I have  no  doubt  that  her  people, 
desiring  the  help  of  my  firearms,  had  suggested  the  match  to 
secure  me  to  support  their  side.  The  lady  at  first  was  rather 
disgusted,  but  soon  got  over  it,  and  we  remained  on  our 
former  friendly  terms. 

In  this  encampment  two  disagreements  occurred  between 
Indians  and  their  wives,  which  were  the  only  matrimonial 
squabbles  that  came  under  my  notice  during  my  wanderings 
in  their  company.  One  occurred  between  Tankelow  and  his 
spouse  in  our  toldo.  It  began  by  Tankelow’s  striking  his 
daughter,  which  his  wife  angrily  resented  ; from  words  they 
came  to  blows,  and  the  squaw  was  getting  rather  the  best  of 
it,  when  Mrs.  Orkeke  interposed  with  a strong  arm,  and 
forcibly  put  a stop  to  the  disturbance. 

The  following  day  Tankelow  drove  his  horses  off  separately, 
but  towards  evening  a reconciliation  was  effected.  On  the 
3rd  of  October  we  left  Gelgel-aik  and  marched  west  in  the 
face  of  a bitterly  cold  wind.  In  the  hunt  not  less  than  seven 


100 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


pumas  were  killed,  which  were,  as  usual  at  this  time,  very 
fat,  and  were  duly  boiled  in  the  iron  pots,  furnishing  an 
excellent  supper,  the  meat  closely  resembling  boiled  pork. 
During  the  day  seven  of  the  Chilians  were  missed,  and  on 
our  arrival  at  the  toldos,  it  transpired  that  they  had  deter- 
mined to  try  and  find  their  own  way  to  the  Chupat  settle- 
ment ; and  as  they  had  left  in  an  underhand  manner,  which 
the  Indians  look  upon  as  tantamount  to  a declaration  of  war, 
some  of  the  people  wished  to  pursue  and  kill  them,  but  this 
proposition  was  overruled  by  Orkeke  and  Casimiro.  The  en- 
campment was  sheltered  by  a hill  named  ‘ Tele,’  close  to  a large 
lagoon  covered  with  waterfowl,  into  which  flowed  a beautiful 
spring  issuing  from  the  hill ; along  the  margin  of  the  clear 
pure  water  grew  a profusion  of  a sort  of  green  cress,  and  at 
sunset  flights  of  flamingoes  (Phoenicopterus  tgnipallo)  and 
rose-coloured  spoonbills  (Platalea  ajaja)  came  to  the  lagoon 
to  feed.  One  day’s  hunting  was  done  in  the  surrounding 
plain,  which  to  the  west  presents  several  of  the  remarkable 
drops,  or  basin-like  formations  described  by  Darwin  as  existing 
on  the  eastern  side  of  the  Cordillera.  On  October  5th  we 
broke  up  the  camp  and  marched  in  a northerly  direction,  until 
a stream  of  considerable  size  was  arrived  at ; this  some  of  us 
crossed  at  once,  although  it  was  deep  and  the  banks  rotten  and 
unsound.  The  women  and  remainder  of  the  party  diverged  to 
a ford,  old  Orkeke  sending  one  of  the  Chilians  to  take  care 
that  his  little  dog  (on  whom  he  lavished  his  paternal 
affections)  did  not  get  wet.  In  half  an  hour’s  time  the 
whole  party — Ako  included — had  crossed  in  safety,  and 
the  camp  was  pitched  on  a peninsula  between  this  river 
and  another  which  joined  it  lower  down.  The  united 
streams  may  or  may  not  form  a tributary  of  the  Chupat,  as 
the  Indians  disagreed  on  this  point,  some  averring  it  to  be 
so,  others  stating  that  the  river  flowed  into  a large  lagoon. 
The  weather  had  changed  into  drizzling  rain,  and  the  wet 
and  sloppy  state  of  the  toldos  was  very  disagreeable.  It 
did  not,  however,  much  affect  our  clothing,  as  it  is  easy  to 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


101 


dry  a guanaco  mantle  by  the  fire,  but  care  must  be  taken 
only  to  expose  the  furred  side  to  the  heat,  otherwise  the 
hide  will  become  dried  and  apt  to  tear  easily.  Whilst  in 
this  encampment  look-outs  were  posted,  and  one  came  in 
stating  that  he  had  seen  smoke  in  a northerly  direction. 
Consequently  on  October  9,  having  rested  our  jaded  horses, 
which  were  rapidly  improving  in  condition,  from  grazing  on 
the  young  green  grass  now  springing  abundantly  in  all  the 
valleys,  we  crossed  a barren,  clayey  pampa,  interspersed 
with  bogs  and  marshes  at  intervals,  and  on  the  10th  arrived 
at  a small  range  of  hills,  running  east  and  west,  under  one  of 
which  the  toldos  were  pitched,  near  to  another  of  those  beau- 
tiful circular  springs  which  frequently  occur  in  Patagonia ; 
from  the  centre  of  the  smooth  white  sand  which  formed  the 
bottom,  the  water  bubbled  up  like  liquid  crystal,  and  silvery 
fishes  could  be  seen  darting  about  in  the  circular  basin.  The 
Indians  delight  in  laving  their  hands  and  feet  in  the  springs, 
and  will  sit  there  for  a long  time  admiring  the  beauty  of 
these  ‘ eyes  of  the  desert.’  As,  on  our  arrival,  the  women 
had  not  yet  completed  the  domestic  arrangements,  after 
throwing  the  spoils  of  the  chase  off  our  saddles,  a party  of  us 
ascended  an  adjacent  hill  to  have  a look  round.  The  day 
was  magnificent,  and  the  sun,  just  setting,  bathed  the  whole 
country  in  a flood  of  red  tints.  To  the  N.E.  we  observed 
three  distinct  columns  of  smoke  which  the  Indians  averred  to 
be  caused  by  the  Chilian  deserters,  and  were  very  bitter 
against  them,  as  they  were  supposed  to  have  lost  their  way, 
and  to  be  desirous  of  returning  again  to  the  toldos.  In  this 
place  I found  my  compass  would  not  act,  owing,  as  I sup- 
posed, to  having  been  disabled ; but  as  it  subsequently  behaved 
properly,  its  temporary  derangement  must  have  been  due  to 
some  local  attraction.  To  the  northward,  as  well  as  I could 
guess  the  bearings,  ran  a long  range  of  hills,  terminating  in 
a peculiarly  peaked  mountain,  below  which  the  Indians 
pointed  out  the  trees  which  fringed  a river — according  to 
their  statements,  a tributary  of  the  Chupat.  To  the  west 


102  AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 

extended  rolling  plains,  which  appeared  to  stretch  away 
into  the  distance,  interrupting  the  chain  of  the  Cordillera, 
as  though  there  were  a depression  or  break  in  the  mountains, 
no  hills  of  large  size  being  visible  on  the  horizon.  Whilst 
lying  down  smoking  on  this  hill,  I picked  up  several  pieces 
of  opal  and  cacholong  combined,  and  as  I was  idly  forming 
them  into  different  patterns  on  the  ground,  and  had  ar- 
ranged a circle  resembling  a miniature  Indian  grave,  one  of 
my  companions  observing  what  I was  doing,  grew  very 
angry,  and  said,  ‘ That  will  bring  ill  luck,’  evidently  believing 
that  I was  mentally  compassing  the  death  of  some  one  by 
witchcraft.  As  I had  no  wish  to  be  killed,  by  way  of  pre- 
vention of  any  imaginary  spells,  I quickly  gathered  up  the 
specimens,  many  of  which  were  afterwards  lost  in  the  ensuing 
journey.  The  Indian  name  for  this  place  is  Yaiken-Kaimak, 
signifying  that  it  is  the  hill  whence  they  espy  the  signal 
smoke  denoting  the  approach  of  the  Indians  from  the  north. 

We  remained  five  days  in  this  encampment,  a general 
uneasiness  prevailing,  and  arms  being  kept  ready  to  hand. 
In  addition  to  the  usual  hunting,  under  the  orders  of  the 
cacique,  we  were  engaged  in  performing  exercises  on  horse- 
back ; this  mounted  drill  being  intended  as  a preparation  in 
case  wre  should  find  the  northern  Tehuelches  at  war  with  the 
Araucanos  or  Manzaneros  Indians.  The  plains  to  the  west- 
ward abounded  with  guanaco,  some  thousands  being  enclosed 
in  the  circle  at  one  time.  One  day  that  I had  not  accompanied 
the  hunting  party,  I was  strolling  across  the  camp,  having 
volunteered  to  occupy  the  post  of  the  vidette  on  an  adjacent 
hill,  when  I observed  a guanaco,  very  tired,  coming  towards 
me  ; so,  hiding  behind  a bush,  I waited  till  he  unsuspiciously 
approached,  and  then  rushing  out,  balled  him  with  a pair  of 
ostrich  bolas.  As  he  was  so  close  to  me,  his  forelegs  were 
perfectly  tied  up,  and  I had  not  much  difficulty  in  despatching 
him  with  a blow  on  the  head  from  another  set  of  bolas.  By 
this  time  I had  attained  a tolerable  dexterity  in  the  use  of  the 
bolas,  and  it  was  my  invariable  custom  when  not  otherwise 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


103 


employed  to  stroll  about  and  practise.  Besides  their  use, 
my  practical  training  had  enabled  me  soon  to  acquire  the 
art  of  manufacturing  them,  and  our  many  idle  hours  were  em- 
ployed in  plaiting  ostrich  sinews,  so  that  I contrived  to  fit  up 
an1  extensive  assortment,  some  of  which  I used  to  barter  for 
tobacco.  The  weather  during  our  stay  here  became  worse, 
rain,  sleet,  and  gales  of  wind  prevailing;  and  the  toldos,  from 
the  continuous  rain  and  the  marshy  nature  of  the  ground, 
became  so  wet  and  wretched  as  to  be  almost  uninhabitable, 
so  that  we  marched  on  the  16th  over  a level  pampa — smoke 
to  the  eastward  being  observed  and  duly  answered  during 
the  journey.  We  encamped  at  night  on  the  north  side  of  a 
small  rapid  stream,  in  a place  called  ‘ Pelwecken,’  situated 
a league  from  the  wooded  river,  the  trees  of  which  were 
visible  from  the  encampment.  I here  saw  a new  game  played 
by  the  Indians  which  resembled  that  known  amongst  school- 
boys as  ‘ knucklebones,’  being  played  with  small  stones  in 
lieu  of  the  bones,  and  heavy  stakes  were  lost  and  won  on 
the  chances.  On  Sunday,  the  17th,  the  Indians  started  to 
hunt  in  the  vicinity  of  the  wooded  river,  and  Casimiro  pro- 
posed that  I should  accompany  him  to  the  woods  to  cut  poles 
for  the  toldos,  and  timber  for  working  saddles.  Orkeke, 
however,  for  some  reason  or  another,  recommended  me  to 
stay  quietly  in  the  toldos  ; and  as  advice  is  sometimes  almost 
the  same  as  a command,  I acquiesced,  although  longing  to 
enjoy  a close  view  of  a tree  again  after  so  much  wandering  over 
the  treeless  pampas.  As  the  day  was  warm  and  fine,  I strolled 
down  the  river  in  search  of  the  eggs  of  the  upland  goose 
(Chloephaga  magellanica),  yellow-billed  goose  (Cygnus  cos- 
coroba),  and  other  water  fowl,  and  returned  about  two  p.m. 
with  plenty  of  spoil.  The  women  were  superintending  the 
cooking  of  some  of  these,  when  one  of  them  rushed  into  the 
toldo  and  cried  out  that  the  Indians  were  returning  and  a 
fight  had  taken  place.  A glance  at  the  coming  horsemen  was 
at  once  sufficient  to  convince  us  that  she  was  right.  They 
came  galloping  back  by  twos  and  threes,  swords  drawn, 


104 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


mantles  hanging  off  their  shoulders,  and  their  faces  glowing 
with  fury.  They  at  once  proceeded  to  get  their  guns  and 
revolvers  to  renew  the  fight.  Orkeke,  however,  arrived  and 
made  a long  speech,  and  ultimately  quiet  was  restored.  One 
man — a brother  of  Camillo — had  been  killed  and  left  on  the 
pampa.  The  sister  of  the  deceased  was  frantic  at  his  death, 
and,  arming  herself  with  a knife,  attempted  to  avenge  him ; 
but  she  was  soon  stopped,  disarmed  and  quieted.  The  de- 
ceased was  armed  with  a six-shooter,  and  his  assailant  had 
only  a sword  ; one  shot  missed  him  and  the  next  barrel  missed 
fire,  whereupon  he  closed  and  ran  his  adversary  through  the 
body.  Casimiro  returned  shortly  after  the  remainder,  and 
when  he  heard  of  the  fight  and  the  result,  was  for  some  time 
eager  to  renew  it  and  avenge  the  slain  man,  who  was  a rela- 
tion of  his  own,  but  at  last  yielded  to  Orkeke’s  arguments. 
The  following  day  the  smoke  to  the  east  appeared  pretty 
close,  and,  when  we  had  marched  on  a little,  two  young  men 
wrere  despatched  in  its  direction  with  private  instructions 
from  Orkeke,  and  we  proceeded  to  the  wooded  river,  where 
we  luxuriated  for  a short  time  under  the  shade  of  a descrip- 
tion of  birch  tree,  and  then  forded  the  stream,  which  is  of 
considerable  width  and  very  rapid.  The  Indians  declared 
that  it  was  impossible  for  any  man  to  swim  across  the  river 
in  the  deeper  portion  below  the  ford,  on  account  of  some 
ferocious  beasts  which  they  termed  water  tigers — ‘ Tigres  de 
l’agua  ’ — which  would  certainly  attack  and  devour  any  one 
in  the  water.  They  described  them  as  yellow  quadrupeds, 
larger  than  puma.  It  is  certain  that  two  ostriches,  which, 
being  too  poor  for  use,  had  been  left  on  the  bank,  were  found 
by  us  next  day  in  the  shallow  water,  torn  and  half-devoured, 
and  the  tracks  of  an  animal  resembling  those  of  a large  puma 
were  plainly  visible  leading  down  to  the  water  ; but  a puma 
invariably  drags  its  prey  to  a hush ; and,  though  jaguar 
will  take  the  water  readily,  I have  never  known  one  devour 
its  prey  except  on  land,  nor,  as  far  as  I know,  are  they 
found  so  far  south.  The  animal  may  be  a species  of  the 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


105 


large  brown  otter,  with  orange-colonred  fur  on  the  breast, 
found  in  the  Parana  ; but  the  Indians’  account  is  curious  as 
bearing  on  the  name  of  the  lake — ‘Nahuel  Huapi,’  or  Tigers’ 
Island.  It  is  possible  that  the  aguarra  found  in  the  valley  of 
the  Rio  Negro  may  also  haunt  these  districts.  They  further 
told  me  that  stags  had  been  seen  on  the  banks  of  the  river, 
but  none  were  heard  of  during  our  stay  in  the  neighbour- 
hood. A few  miles  below  the  ford  the  belt  of  trees  ceases, 
and  on  the  southern  side  there  is  a peculiar  group  of  what 
seem  to  be  square-shaped  rocks,  which  at  a distance  have 
very  much  the  appearance  of  a small  town  regularly  built  and 
walled.  This  is  called  by  the  Indians  4 Sengel,’  and  was  the 
scene  of  a great  fight  between  the  Tehuelches  and  Araucanos 
many  years  ago,  relics  of  which  in  the  shape  of  bones  and 
skulls  still  whiten  the  plain.  After  crossing  the  river,  the 
young  men  who  had  been  sent  back  returned,  bringing  with 
them  three  horses  belonging  to  the  Chilians  and  one  man 
of  their  party,  who,  incredible  as  it  seems,  had  assisted  the 
Indians  to  dismount  and  disable  his  companions.  The  par- 
ticulars of  the  fate  of  the  others  were  not  divulged,  though 
a story  was  current  that  some  of  them  had  managed  to  reach 
the  Chupat.  I asked  no  questions,  but  the  blood-stained 
knife  of  one  of  the  young  men  told  its  own  story.  This  day 
all  the  Indians  rode  on  in  silence,  the  last  two  days’  events 
having  roused  all  their  bad  passions.  I rode  alone,  feeling 
that  there  was  danger  in  the  air,  and  near  our  halting-place 
joined  Orkeke  and  two  others  at  a fireside  for  the  purpose  of 
cooking  some  ostrich  eggs,  which  we  were  busily  discussing 
when  a messenger  came  to  say  that  Casimiro  was  waiting  to 
see  me  at  a spot  which  he  indicated.  I mounted  and  rode 
off  accordingly,  but  had  not  gone  far  before  the  two  hravos 
who  had  been  commissioned  to  do  for  the  Chilians  galloped 
up,  one  from  either  side,  one  brandishing  his  sword  and  the 
other  swinging  his  bolas.  I at  once  put  spurs  to  my  horse, 
and  my  mantle  flying  back  discovered  two  revolvers  belted 
round  my  waist  underneath  it.  They  checked  their  career 


106 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


and  sang  out,  ‘ Stop  ! Where  are  you  going  ? ’ But,  without 
making  any  reply,  I galloped  on,  being  not  further  interfered 
with,  and  soon  joined  my  old  friend.  He  then  informed  me 
that,  being  utterly  disgusted  •with  the  late  proceedings  and 
general  anarchy,  he  had  determined  to  push  forward  by  himself 
to  meet  the  Northern  Indians,  leaving  his  wife  and  children 
under  the  charge  of  Cayuke.  He  therefore  wanted  the 
letters  which  I had  written  for  him,  and  my  own,  which  he 
undertook  to  forward  at  the  same  time.  So  I rode  back  to 
the  toldos  for  the  letters,  which  I carried  to  Casimiro  without 
any  one  attempting  to  stop  my  way. 

Having  returned  to  the  fire  under  the  bush,  I dismounted, 
and  whilst  cooking  another  egg,  gave  Orkeke  a piece  of  my 
mind ; quietly  hinting  that  I carried  ten  lives  about  me. 
He  assured  me  it  was  all  a mistake,  and  had  happened  with- 
out any  orders  from  him,  the  young  fellows  only  wishing  to 
try  my  mettle  by  way  of  joke.  I replied  that  jokes  of  that 
sort  were  sometimes  dangerous,  and  the  subject  was  mutually 
dropped. 

We  encamped  by  the  side  of  a stream,  into  which  many  of 
us  soon  plunged  to  take  a refreshing  bath,  always  a favourite 
enjoyment  with  the  Tehuelches,  who  are  powerful  swimmers, 
and  dive  well.  While  resting  here  and  sporting  in  the  water 
a better  state  of  feeling  arose,  and  the  mutual  suspicion  and 
discord  which  had  so  long  prevailed  was  gradually  forgotten. 
Casimiro  had  left,  taking  one  of  the  Chilians ; and  his  spouse 
told  me,  amid  a torrent  of  abuse  of  her  better-half,  that  he 
had  gone  through  fear,  the  other  Indians  having  determined 
to  kill  him  ; and  she  added  that  he  had  the  heart  of  a skunk, 
a vulture,  and  an  armadillo.  These  combined  would  make  a 
very  nice  mixture.  That  he  was  right  in  making  his  escape 
at  this  particular  juncture  was  very  evident,  for  the  next  day 
two  young  men  were  sent  out,  ostensibly  as  chasquis  or 
messengers,  to  look  for  the  Northern  Indians,  but  in  reality 
to  try  and  overtake  Casimiro  and  dispose  of  him  ; however, 
they  returned  without  any  tidings  of  the  wily  old  chief. 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


107 


In  the  range  of  hills  described  as  visible  from  Kaimak, 
there  is  a mine  or  vein  of  iron  ore,  about  a mile  due  west 
from  the  brook,  and  marked  by  a large  mass  of  white  quartz. 
This  is  used  by  the  Indians  in  the  manufacture  of  bolas,  and 
an  excursion  was  made  to  it.  We  brought  hack  numerous 
pieces,  some  of  which,  now  in  my  possession,  have  been 
examined,  and  pronounced  to  be  brown  and  magnetic  iron 
ore.  The  Indians  also  told  me  that  some  leagues  to  the  east 
of  this  spot  a mass  of  iron,  having,  as  well  as  could  he 
gathered  from  then-  account,  the  shape  of  a bar-shot,  lies  in 
the  middle  of  a barren  plain,  and  is  regarded  by  them  with 
superstitious  awe.  Whether  this  he  an  aerolite,  or  has  any 
connection  with  the  ore  on  the  hill  side,  it  was  not  in  my 
power  to  determine,  for  in  the  critical  state  of  feeling  then 
prevalent  a visit  of  inspection  was  impracticable. 

On  the  22nd  of  October  we  marched  a few  miles,  always 
following  the  line  of  hills,  and  in  a northerly  course.  Ostrich 
eggs  still  formed  the  main  staple  of  food,  and  furnished  a 
diet  sufficiently  nutritious,  but  producing  all  the  effects  of  a 
course  of  ‘ Banting.’  Fortunately  this  day  two  of  us  killed 
fat  pumas,  some  steaks  off  which  broiled,  by  way  of  variety, 
were  an  acceptable  addition  to  the  evening  meal ; but  from 
experience  I should  advise  all  travellers  to  boil  then’  puma. 
We  encamped  in  a small  gorge  in  the  hills,  directly  under  a 
peculiarly  pointed  rock,  which  is  called  Yowlel,  or  Ship 
Bock,  from  its  resemblance  to  a ship  under  sail,  and  is 
regarded  with  superstition  by  the  Indians,  who  believe  that 
all  who  endeavour  to  aseend  it  in  the  calmest  weather  will, 
on  arriving  at  the  summit,  have  their  mantles  blown  to  pieces 
by  furious  gusts  of  wind. 

The  next  day — a glorious  morning,  after  a night's  rain — 
we  proceeded  in  the  same  direction  ; and  while  waiting  for 
the  heavy  baggage,  in  the  shape  of  the  women  and  children, 
several  of  us  repaired  to  a regular  racecourse — a beaten  track 
six  feet  wide,  extending  for  almost  three  miles,  level  and  free 
from  stones,  though  rather  sandy.  Here  we  had  trials  of  the 


108 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE.  PATAGONIANS. 


speed  of  our  horses  to  while  away  the  interval ; and  when 
the  women  appeared,  proceeded  to  the  chase,  over  a pampa 
formed  by  a bend  in  the  range  of  hills.  During  the  hunt 
we  found  the  carcase  of  a guanaco,  which  had  been  killed  by 
a puma,  carefully  covered  up  in  grass  and  scrub.  It  was  a 
fat  animal,  such  as  the  puma  always  singles  out,  although  I 
have  read  in  some  accounts  that  he  follows  the  herds  and 
picks  up  the  weakly  ones.  That  this  is  not  the  case  was 
proved  on  various  occasions,  by  finding  the  carcases  left  by 
these  cats,  which  were  always  those  of  animals  in  good  con- 
dition. Early  in  the  afternoon  we  arrived  at  the  encampment, 
by  the  side  of  a small  river,  flowing  in  an  easterly  direction 
from  the  hills.  The  women,  with  the  exception  of  one  or 
two,  were  not  present,  and  might  be  seen  about  two  miles  off, 
grubbing  up  a description  of  potato  which  grew  in  the  neigh- 
bouring hill  side.  The  day  was  warm,  and  Orkeke  invited 
me  to  go  to  the  top  of  one  of  the  hills  to  see  if  any  smoke  or 
signs  of  Indians  were  visible.  We  accordingly  crossed  the 
stream,  and  while  riding  along  the  northern  bank  I observed 
fish  swimming  lazily  on  the  top  of  the  water.  After  crossing 
a marshy  patch  of  ground,  we  ascended  the  hills,  and  dis- 
mounting near  a bank  of  blue  earth,  climbed  on  foot  to  the 
summit,  which  was  composed  of  a description  of  quartz,  with 
crystalline  veins  running  through  it.  Scrambling  up  this 
formation,  we  arrived  at  the  top,  whence  we  had  a beautiful 
view  of  the  encampment  and  the  green  pasture  bordering  the 
stream.  To  the  northward  the  view  was  rather  shut  in  by 
hills  rising  to  a considerable  elevation.  Just  below  us 
lay  a valley,  in  which  several  guanaco  and  ostriches  were 
taking  their  evening  meal.  We  remained  here  for  some 
time  smoking  and  enjoying  the  face  of  nature  generally,  hut 
could  discern  no  smoke  or  signs  of  Indians.  Orkeke  remarked 
that  the  pasture  had  a fresher  appearance  lower  down  the 
course  of  the  stream,  and  proposed  that  we  should  inspect 
it.  We  accordingly  descended  from  our  elevated  position, 
mounted,  and  proceeded  to  the  valley  below ; in  our  descent 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


109 


being  lucky  enough  to  kill  a fat  male  ostrich,  which  was  sit- 
ting on  a nest  of  twenty-four-  eggs.  We  investigated  the  grass, 
which  was  of  good  quality  ; and  after  an  al  fresco  meal,  in 
which  we  were  joined  by  Tchang,  returned  to  the  toldos, 
where  the  women  had  just  arrived  with  a considerable  supply 
of  potatoes.  I again,  on  our  way  back,  observed  fish  in  the 
stream,  so,  turning  my  horse  adrift,  proceeded  to  extract  my 
hooks  and  line  from  the  baggage  under  the  charge  of  Mrs. 
Orkeke.  After  a little  delay  all  was  ready  ; a piece  of  meat 
supplied  the  place  of  fly  as  bait ; and  dropping  it  gently  into 
the  pool,  I soon  had  a bite,  and  pulled  out  a fish  about  two 
pounds  weight,  of  the  perch  class,  similar  to  that  called 
dorado  in  the  River  Plate.  After  half  an  hour’s  fishing  I 
landed  several  others  as  large,  and  as  it  was  nearly  dark, 
returned  to  supper  off  fried  fish  and  boiled  potatoes. 

I had  no  opportunity  of  seeing  the  plants  which  produced 
these  tubers,  but  they  exactly  resembled  those  I afterwards 
obtained  in  the  northern  country  from  a plant,  the  feathery 
fern-like  leaf  of  which  springs  from  a long  slender  stem. 
The  following  day  we  shifted  camp  down  river,  to  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  the  green  pasture,  and  found  large  quantities  of 
the  eggs  of  the  upland  geese,  ducks,  &c.  In  the  neigh- 
bourhood one  lonely  tree  grew  by  the  side  of  the  stream, 
although  the  banks  were  lined  with  driftwood,  probably  car- 
ried down  by  the  wooded  slopes  of  the  Cordillera,  ten  miles 
farther  west,  during  floods.  This  day,  smoke  having  been  dis- 
tinctly seen  to  the  northward,  Hummums  was  despatched  to 
ascertain  whether  it  were  a signal  from  the  much-looked-for 
Northern  Indians.  Three  days  subsequently,  about  nine  in 
the  evening,  whilst  I was  lying  dreaming  of  home,  and  had 
just — in  dreamland — taken  a glass  of  sherry,  Orkeke  woke 
me  up  with  the  intelligence  that  fires  were  to  be  seen  to  the 
north,  which  were  no  doubt  caused  by  the  ‘ chasqui  ’ or  mes- 
senger previously  despatched.  In  about  three  hours’  time 
— somewhere  about  midnight — Casimiro,  Hummums,  and 
another  Indian  rode  into  the  camp,  and  our  toldo  was  soon 


110 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


crowded  to  hear  the  news  from  our  chasqui,  who  stated  that 
the  Northern  Indians  were  in  the  wild  cattle  district,  where 
they  had  killed  several  animals ; they  were  also  well  pro- 
vided with  tobacco  and  other  necessaries  from  the  Rio  Negro, 
where  they  had  been  for  trading  purposes  in  August,  and 
they  would  welcome  our  party,  provided  that  they  came  in  a 
friendly  spirit.  The  following  morning  we  had  a great  con- 
sultation in  Crime’s  toldo,  at  which  it  was  determined  that 
all  quarrels  should  be  forgotten,  and  that  we  should  march 
at  once  to  effect  a junction  with  the  other  Indians.  This 
having  been  resolved  on,  all  marched  in  an  easterly  direction 
to  an  encampment  situated  on  the  borders  of  the  same 
stream,  and  under  a range  of  hills  called  ‘ Appleykaik.’  Here 
we  remained  three  days ; and  smoke  not  previously  accounted 
for  having  been  observed  to  the  east,  two  scouts  were  sent 
out  to  ascertain  the  cause,  but  returned  without  intelligence. 
We  spent  our  time,  as  usual,  in  hunting,  or  bathing  in  the 
river  ; and  on  October  31  marched  again,  and  had  not  gone 
very  far,  in  a north-east  direction,  before  Tankelow — who 
had  started  earlier  than  the  rest,  and  constituted  himself  a 
corps  d’ observation — appeared,  with  a strange  Indian  of  the 
Pampa  tribe,  who  stated  that  his  companions  were  on  their 
way  to  join  the  Northern  Indians.  They  had  come  from  the 
neighbourhood  of  the  Chupat  colony,  and  were,  as  far  as  I 
could  make  out,  mixed  Pampas  and  Tehuelches.  It  was 
agreed  that  they  should  join  us  and  the  others  at  a place 
called  ‘ Henno,’  to  which  we  were  at  present  marching. 
We  continued  our  route  after  this  slight  interruption,  and 
encamped  for  the  night  near  the  banks  of  a small  stream. 
The  weather  had  entirely  changed,  the  wind  blowing  bitterly 
from  the  south-west,  with  squalls  of  sleet,  hail,  and  snow ; 
and  but  few  of  the  party  found  it  agreeable  to  take  the  evening 
bath.  Casimiro  was  in  high  spirits,  as  many  of  the  Northern 
Indians  were  relations  of  his,  and  he  was  to  be  invested  with 
the  supreme  command — in  prospect  of  which  he  had  already 
received  presents  of  horses,  and  was  looking  forward  to  the 


THE  RIO  CHICO. 


Ill 


consultation  of  the  chief,  which,  he  assured  me,  would  have 
to  be  conducted  with  great  pomp.  During  our  talk,  Casimiro 
narrated  all  his  adventures  after  quitting  the  toldos.  He 
had  travelled  so  fast,  knowing  that  he  would  probably  be 
pm-sued,  that  on  the  fifth  day  his  horse  broke  down,  as  for 
two  days  previous  he  had  seen  smoke  from  some  encampment 
to  which  he  was  by  this  time  close,  though  he  was  uncertain 
whether  it  was  that  of  his  friends  or  not.  He  left  his  Chilian 
companion,  and  proceeded  to  an  eminence  to  reconnoitre. 
During  his  absense  the  Chilian  fell  asleep ; the  grass  caught 
fire  and  surrounded  the  sleeping  man.  The  Indians — Hin- 

chel’s  people — attracted  by  the  smoke,  came  down  and  res- 
cued him,  all  his  clothes  having  been  burned  off  and  his  body 
severely  scorched.  Having  heard  his  story,  Hinchel  at  once 
sent  a party  to  search  for  Casimiro.  When  the  latter  saw 
the  five  mounted  Indians  approaching,  wrapped  in  their 
ponchos,  he  was  uncertain  if  they  were  Araucanos  or  Tehuel- 
ches,  and  drew  his  revolver,  prepared  to  pick  them  off  in 
detail ; but  soon,  to  his  great  relief,  he  recognised  in  the 
leader  a relation  of  his  own.  He  also  told  me  that  when 
Hummums,  our  chasqui,  arrived,  he  was  entertained  by  some 
friend  of  his  own,  to  whom,  in  the  evening,  he  boasted 
that  he  and  his  friends  had  killed  all  the  Christians  in 
their  camp.  This  story  was  at  once  carried  to  Hinchel 
and  Casimiro,  who  inquired  if  ‘ Muster  ’ had  also  been 
killed ; to  which  the  tale-bearer  unhesitatingly  replied  that 
he  had.  Hinchel,  who  had  previously  heard  all  about 
the  English  visitor  from  Casimiro,  was  furious  at  what  he 
considered  a grave  breach  of  hospitality,  and  issued  orders 
forthwith  to  apprehend  the  chasqui,  and  to  mount  and  make 
ready  to  avenge  my  supposed  death  by  killing  Orkeke  and 
all  his  party.  Hummums,  however,  when  interrogated  as  a 
prisoner,  in  great  terror  declared  that  ‘ Muster  ’ was  safe, 
and  that  no  one  had  any  idea  of  killing  him,  and  then  the 
storm  blew  over.  But  this  account,  which  was  confirmed  by 
the  report  of  the  chasqui,  accidently  overheard  by  myself, 


112  AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


prepared  me  to  meet  Hinckel  with  feelings  of  friendliness 
towards  a chief  who  had  evinced  so  keen  a sense  of  the  care 
to  be  taken  of  a stranger  who  had  confided  himself  to  Indian 
hospitality ; and  the  impression  of  this  chief’s  character 
then  formed,  was  fully  confirmed  on  further  acquaintance 
with  him. 

The  two  following  days  our  route  lay  through  a succession 
of  rather  barren  valleys,  bordered  by  ranges  of  high  hills, 
everywhere  strewn  with  rocks  and  boulders,  and  having  a 
very  gaunt  and  weird  appearance.  The  valleys  generally 
contained  good  pasture  on  either  the  northern  or  southern 
side  of  the  streams  which  flowed  down  every  one  ; but  away 
from  the  vicinity  of  the  water  the  soil  was  sandy,  with  low 
bushes  scattered  here  and  there. 

On  November  2,  about  two  p.m.,  we  arrived  at  a pass 
or  gorge  above  the  rendezvous  at  Henno.  The  view  of 
the  valley  below  was  very  refreshing  ; green  grassy  plains 
stretched  for  some  miles,  with  a beautiful  silvery  stream  run- 
ning down  the  centre.  But,  much  to  our  disappointment, 
no  signs  of  Indians  were  visible;  so  we  descended,  and  after 
bathing  in  a pool,  and  waiting  until  the  toldos  were  pitched, 
lighted  a big  signal  fire,  which  was  shortly  answered  to  the 
westward,  and  a messenger  was  immediately  despatched  who 
returned  towards  nightfall  with  the  intelligence  that  the  ex- 
pected people  would  arrive  next  day ; and  we  had  to  recon- 
cile ourselves  to  another  night  of  anxiety,  being  not  at  all 
certain  as  to  the  reception  to  be  expected  from  the  new 
comers. 


CHAPTER  IV. 


HENNOKAIK  TO  TECKEL. 


Ceremonial  of  Welcome— Hinchel’s  Indians — Tehuelch.es  and  Araucanos 


— Jackechan  and  the  Chupat  Tribe — My  Examination — Encampment 
at  Henuo — Peaceful  Occupations — The  Oldest  Inhabitant — Chiriq — 
The  Hidden  Cities — Modern  Legends — Mysteries  of  the  Cordillera — 
Los  Cesares — La  Ciudad  Encantada — Its  Whereabouts — The  Indian 
Cesares — The  Guanaco — The  Patagonian  Ostrich — Neighbourhood  of 
Chiriq — Horseracing — Indian  Horses — Indian  Dogs — Dog  and  Lover 
— Plaiting  Sinews — Windy  Hill — Surrounded  by  Fire — Young  Gua- 
naco— Arrival  of  Grog — News  from  Santa  Cruz — Gisk — Romantic 
Scenery — A Pleasant  Neighbourhood — Fairy  Glen — Breaking  a Horse 
— Female  Curiosity — The  Wild  Cattle  Country — The  Forests  of  the 
Cordillera — The  Watershed — Among  the  Mountains — Wild  Flowers 
— A Bull  Fight — The  Bull  Victorious — No  Christmas  Beef — Teckel 
— Change  of  Quarters. 

S we  were  whiling  away  the  next  forenoon  in  fishing  and 


disporting  ourselves  generally  in  the  water,  smoke  was 
described  at  various  points  to  the  westward,  and  about  two 
p.m.,  the  head  of  the  heavy  column  of  women,  children,  and 
innumerable  horses  came  into  view  on  the  northern  side  of  the 
valley.  All  instantly  repaired  to  the  toldos,  accoutred  our- 
selves, and  got  up  the  horses  in  preparation  for  the  arrival  of 
the  visitors  ; the  meeting  of  any  number  of  Indians  after  a 
separation  being  recognised  as  an  affair  of  considerable  im- 
portance. Shortly  after  our  horses  were  caught  and  saddled, 
and,  indeed,  before  some  of  our  party  were  ready,  the  men 
who  had  been  hunting  en  route  appeared,  and  the  ceremonial 
of  welcome  was  duly  observed. 


8 


114 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


Both  parties,  fully  armed,  dressed  in  their  best,  and 
mounted  on  their  best  horses,  formed  into  opposite  lines. 

The  Northern  Indians  presented  the  gayest  appearance, 
displaying  flannel  shirts,  ponchos,  and  a great  show  of  silver 
spurs  and  ornamental  bridles.  The  chiefs  then  rode  up  and 
down,  dressing  the  ranks  and  haranguing  their  men,  who 
kept  up  a continual  shouting  of  ‘ Wap,  Wap,  Wap.’  I fell  in 
as  a private,  though  Casimiro  had  vainly  endeavoured  to 
induce  me  to  act  as  ‘ Capitanejo  ’ or  officer  of  a party. 
The  Buenos  Ayrean  colours  were  proudly  displayed  on  our 
side,  while  the  Northerns  carried  a white  weft,  their  ranks 
presenting  a much  better  drilled  aspect  than  our  ill- 
disciplined  forces.  Messengers  or  hostages  were  then  ex- 
changed, each  side  deputing  a son  or  brother  of  the  chief  for 
that  purpose ; and  the  new  comers  advanced,  formed  into 
columns  of  threes,  and  rode  round  our  ranks,  firing  their 
guns  and  revolvers,  shouting  and  brandishing  their  swords 
and  bolas.  After  galloping  round  at  full  speed  two  or  three 
times,  they  opened  ranks,  and  charged  out  as  if  attacking  an 
enemy,  shouting  ‘ Koue  ’ at  every  blow  or  thrust.  The  object 
of  attack  was  supposed  to  be  the  ‘ Gualichu  ’ or  demon,  and 
certainly  the  demon  of  discord  had  need  to  be  exorcised. 
Hinchel’s  party  then  halted  and  reformed  their  line,  while 
we,  in  our  turn,  executed  the  same  manoeuvres.  Afterwards 
the  caciques  advanced  and  formally  shook  hands,  making, 
each  in  turn,  long  and  complimentary  speeches.  This  was 
repeated  several  times,  the  etiquette  being  to  answer  only 
‘ Ahon,’  or  Yes,  until  the  third  repetition,  when  all  begin  to 
talk,  and  formality  is  gradually  laid  aside.  It  was  rather  a 
surprise  to  find  etiquette  so  rigorously  insisted  on,  but  these 
so-called  savages  are  as  punctilious  in  observing  the  proper 
forms  as  if  they  were  Spanish  courtiers. 

These  northern  Tehuelches,  under  the  command  of  Hinchel, 
usually  frequent  the  country  lying  between  the  Rio  Negro 
and  the  River  Sengel,  and  once  a year,  about  July,  visit  the 
settlement  of  Patagones,  where  their  stay  is  generally  short, 


I1ENN0KA  IK  TO  T ECKEL. 


115 


only  sufficient  for  them  to  barter  their  furs  and  feathers,  and 
for  the  chiefs  at  the  same  time  to  receive  their  rations  of 
mares,  cattle,  ponchos,  yerha,  tobacco,  &c.,  allowed  by  the 
Government  of  Buenos  Ayres.  By  the  time  we  met  them  in 
November  they  had  little  to  show  of  the  gains  of  their 
August  visit  to  Bio  Negro  except  a few  mares  and  gay- 
coloured  ponchos.  Hinchel,  however,  owned  two  or  three 
head  of  cattle  which  were  said  to  have  been  caught  at  the 
head  of  the  Chupat  valley,  being  supposed  to  he  stray  cattle 
belonging  to  the  Welsh  settlers.  Some  of  the  Indians  had  still 
also  a little  yerba  left,  and  tobacco  in  plenty  ; and  on  the  occa- 
sion of  the  welcome  many  were  dressed  in  coloured  ponchos, 
chiripas,  and  some  in  leathern  boots.  With  arms  they  were 
passably  well  provided,  guns  and  revolvers  being  in  propor- 
tion of  about  one  to  four  men.  During  the  time  that  we 
were  occupied  in  the  ceremony  the  women  of  the  newly- 
arrived  party  busied  themselves  in  pitching  their  toldos  ; and 
shortly  after  we  had  returned  to  our  camp,  which  was  a 
little  apart  from  that  of  the  new  comers,  and  appeared  very 
small  and  insignificant  when  contrasted  with  theirs,  the 
cacique  came  over,  and  presented  mares,  horses,  and  other 
gifts  to  the  chiefs  of  our  party  ; and  a grand  feast  was 
celebrated  in  our  toldos.  Many  of  the  new  comers  rode 
over,  two  or  sometimes  three  mounted  on  one  horse,  and 
would,  if  not  acquainted  with  the  inmates,  stop  in  front  of  a 
toldo  and  look  in  for  a few  minutes,  then  ride  on  to  another, 
and  so  on.  As  these  were  mostly  young  men,  their  real 
object  was  probably  to  reconnoitre  the  young  ladies.  One, 
however,  who,  though  undistinguishable  from  the  Indians  in 
appearance,  and  who  looked  like  an  Araucano,  hut  was 
really  by  birth  a Spaniard,  having  been  carried  off  in  his 
childhood  from  a settlement,  brought  over  a pack  of  cards, 
and  some  of  our  party  were  soon  deep  in  a game  of  siete,  at 
which  the  stranger  being  a proficient,  soon  cleared  them  out 
completely. 

Next  day  I paid  a visit  to  Hinchel.  He  spoke  no  Spanish, 


116 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


but  he  managed  to  converse,  and  he  asked  me  if  the  Southern 
Tehuelches  were  not  a queer  lot,  for  he  had  heard  that  they 
killed  men  as  readily  as  they  would  guanaco.  From  what 
casimiro  had  reported,  I was  already  inclined  to  respect  this 
cacique,  who  had  expressed  such  readiness  to  protect  or 
avenge  a guest  of  the  Indians,  and  closer  acquaintance  only 
strengthened  my  regard  for  him.  He  was  a fine-looking 
man,  with  a pleasant,  intelligent  countenance,  which  was  not 
belied  by  his  disposition.  He  never,  to  my  knowledge,  ex- 
ceeded sobriety,  and  was  good-humoured  and  self-possessed  ; 
though  if  once  roused  to  fight,  his  resolute  and  determined 
courage  was  well  known.  He  was  skilled  at  all  sorts  of 
handicraft,  and  was  always  busily  employed.  He  was 
generous  to  a fault — ready  to  give  away  everything  if  asked 
for  it,  and  often  without  the  asking.  His  great  weakness 
was  an  inveterate  fondness  for  gambling,  which,  together 
with  his  lavish  good-nature,  eventually  impoverished  him 
greatly.  At  his  request,  I informed  Casimiro  and  Orkeke 
that  he  desired  to  hold  a parlemento.  Accordingly,  the 
chiefs  all  proceeded  to  a place  agreed  upon  between  the  two 
camps,  where  they  took  their  seats  in  a circle  on  the  grass. 
After  various  harangues  from  Hinchel  and  others,  it  was 
resolved  that  Casimiro  should  be  elected  chief  in  command 
of  the  Tehuelches  ; and  that  after  the  expiration  of  the  young 
guanaco  season,  all  present,  together  with  those  expected 
from  the  neighbourhood  of  the  Chupat,  should  proceed  to  a 
place  called  Teckel,  and  thence  march  to  Las  Manzanas,  to 
unite  there  with  the  Araucanian  Indians,  some  of  whom  had 
already  communicated  with  us,  and  had  promised  to  forward 
my  letters,  via  Las  Manzanas,  to  Rio  Negro. 

The  relations  between  the  Tehuelches  or  Tsonecas  of  Pata- 
gonia and  the  Araucanian  Indians  of  Las  Manzanas  had  been 
previously  by  no  means  of  a pacific  nature.  It  has  been 
already  mentioned  that  near  the  Sengel  we  passed  the  scene 
of  a fierce  battle  between  them.  Tankelow  bore  still  the 
scars  of  seven  lance  wounds  received  in  a battle  when  he  was 


HENNOKAIK  TO  TECKEL. 


117 


left  for  dead  on  the  field.  On  the  same  occasion  Orkeke  was 
taken  prisoner,  but,  although  mutilated,  succeeded  eventually 
in  effecting  his  escape.  Casimiro’s  father  also  became  a pri- 
soner in  an  unsuccessful  assault  on  an  Araucanian  strong- 
hold. After  two  or  three  years’  captivity  he  succeeded,  with 
two  of  his  comrades,  in  escaping,  and  while  hurrying  to  re- 
join the  Tehuelches  in  the  vicinity  of  Greylum,  met  with  a 
solitary  Araucanian.  He  seeing  a fire,  approached  unsuspi- 
cious of  danger,  and  was  welcomed  and  invited  to  smoke; 
they  then  seized  him,  stripped  and  bound  him  hand  and  foot, 
and  left  him  lying  on  the  pampa,  a helpless  prey  to  the  con- 
dors and  pumas.  The  two  fugitives,  having  thus  gratified 
their  desire  for  vengeance,  succeeded  in  rejoining  their  own 
people,  and  organised  an  attack  on  the  Araucanos,  in  which 
Casimiro’s  father  was  killed.  Some  wonderful  feats  of 
valour  were  described  to  me  as  having  been  achieved  by  the 
Tehuelches  ; but  in  fact  the  Manzaneros  proved  themselves 
the  superior  warriors,  and  even  at  the  time  of  our  visit  to 
them  had  Tehuelche  slaves.  The  powerful  cacique  Lenque- 
trou  succeeded  in  healing  the  old  feuds,  and  united  all 
the  Indians  under  his  leadership.  He  was  treacherously 
killed  by  an  Argentine  officer  at  Bahia  Blanca  during  the 
peace  between  the  Indians  and  the  Christians,  and  after  his 
death  the  old  quarrels  broke  out  afresh.  Casimiro’s  diplo- 
macy, however,  succeeded  during  the  time  of  my  visit  in  con- 
ciliating all  parties,  and  the  result  appeared  in  the  amicable 
arrangements  concluded  at  the  parlemento,  and  afterwards 
successfully  carried  out.  Had  it  not  been  for  this,  my  journey 
to  Las  Manzanas,  and  thence  to  the  Bio  Negro,  would  have 
been  dangerous,  if  not  altogether  impossible. 

Two  days  after  the  arrival  of  the  Northern  party  the 
Indians  from  the  Chupat  came  in,  and  were  duly  welcomed 
by  our  united  forces,  the  ceremonial  on  this  occasion  pre- 
senting a very  animated  scene.  They  number  between 
seventy  and  eighty  men,  with  women  and  children,  occupying 
about  twenty  toldos.  Most  of  them  were  young  men  of 


118 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


Pampa,  or  mixed  Pampa  and  Tehuelche  blood,  but  there 
were  a few  pure  Tehuelches  in  their  ranks,  the  chief  being 
a Pampa  named  ‘ Jackechan,’  or  Juan.  As  I watched  them 
drawn  up,  or  careering  round  us  during  the  welcome,  they 
appeared  to  present  a different  type  from  that  of  my  first 
friends,  being  generally  shorter,  though  as  muscular,  and 
even  apparently  more  broadly  built,  with  complexions  lighter, 
and  their  dress  and  persons  smarter  and  cleaner.  They  were 
all  well  armed  with  lances  and  firearms,  and  were  evidently 
kept  well  in  hand  by  the  chief.  Their  range  of  country  lay 
between  the  same  limits  as  that  of  Hinchel’s  people,  but 
they  habitually  seemed  to  have  kept  more  to  the  sea-coast, 
where  many  of  them  had  been  accustomed  to  visit  the  Welsh 
colony  at  the  Chupat  for  trade,  and  in  their  opinion,  as  after- 
wards expressed  to  me,  the  honest  Welsh  colonists  were 
much  pleasanter  and  safer  to  deal  with  than  ‘ the  Christians  ’ 
of  the  Rio  Negro.  They  seemed  to  have  been  especially 
impressed  with  the  size  and  excellence  of  the  home-made 
loaves,  one  of  which  would  be  given  in  return  for  half  a 
guanaco,  and  Jackechan  often  expatiated  on  the  liberality  of 
the  colonist  and  the  goodness  of  their  bread.  These  men 
also  felt  strongly  the  kindness  with  which  an  Indian,  if  over- 
taken with  rum,  would  be  covered  up  or  carried  into  an  out- 
house by  the  Chupat  people  ; whereas  at  the  Rio  Negro  the 
only  attention  paid  to  him  would  be  to  strip  and  plunder  him 
completely.  During  the  afternoon  the  chief,  Jackechan,  sent 
a request  to  the  ‘ Englishman  ’ to  pay  him  a visit,  so  I re- 
paired to  his  toldo,  and  was  courteously  received  by  him. 
He  wore  a beautifully-wrought  silver  chain,  with  a medallion 
of  the  Madonna  suspended  to  it,  of  which  he  seemed  par- 
donably proud.  Having  been  invited  to  take  a seat,  and  the 
pipe  having  been  duly  passed  round,  it  became  evident  that 
I was  to  be  tested  as  to  my  real  claims  to  the  character  of  an 
Englishman.  Jackechan,  during  his  visit  to  the  Chupat, 
had  become  acquainted  with  Mr.  Lewis  Jones,  the  Director  of 
the  colony,  and  so  had  learned  the  name  of  the  Queen  of 


HENNOKAIK  TO  T ECKEL. 


119 


England,  &c.,  and  he  proceeded  to  interrogate  me  accord- 
ingly. I found  him  to  be  a most  intelligent  Indian,  speaking 
Spanish,  Pampa,  and  Tehuelche  fluently  ; and  our  acquaint- 
ance thus  commenced  ripened  into  a strong  mutual  friend- 
ship. My  answers  proving  quite  satisfactory,  he  was 
evidently  much  pleased,  and  ordered  his  wife  to  produce 
coffee,  a little  of  which  he  had  still  remaining  from  his  store 
procured  at  Chupat.  While  discussing  this  luxury,  we  had 
a long  conversation  on  various  topics,  and  he  produced  a 
photograph  of  Mr.  Jones  and  some  letters,  one  being  an 
order  for  a ration  of  animals,  mares  and  cattle,  from  the 
Argentine  Government.  He  stated  that  he  had  not  visited 
Patagones  for  some  years,  on  account  of  a fight  that  had 
taken  place,  but  would  perhaps  now  accompany  our  party. 
Whilst  conversing,  his  son,  a boy  of  some  twelve  years  of 
age,  came  in  and  startled  me  by  his  unlikeness  to  the  other 
Indian  boys,  for  his  brown  hair  and  eyes  and  fair  complexion 
might  easily  have  caused  one  to  take  him  for  an  English 
boy.  His  mother  was  not  present,  as,  for  domestic  reasons, 
Jackechan  had  parted  with  her  ; but  I subsequently  saw  her, 
and  she,  although  a handsome  woman,  had  no  European  traits 
about  her  except  that  of  having  quarrelled  with  her  husband. 
The  following  day  was  spent  in  a second  parlemento — or,  as 
the  Indians  call  it,  ‘ aix  ’ — and  all  agreed  to  place  themselves 
under  the  orders  of  Casimiro,  for  the  purpose  of  protecting 
Patagones  in  the  possible  event  of  an  invasion  by  the  Indians 
of  Rouke,  or  ‘ Calficura,’  from  the  country  north  of  Rio 
Negro.  All  present  saw  the  importance  of  protecting  Pata- 
gones, as,  if  that  town  should  be  destroyed,  there  would  be 
no  market  for  their  furs,  &c. 

Our  encampment  was  situated  in  a large  grassy  valley 
watered  by  a stream  flowing  to  the  eastward,  which  was 
finally  lost  in  a large  marsh.  The  valley,  which  may  have 
been  about  twelve  miles  in  length  and  perhaps  four  in  width 
at  its  broadest  part,  was  confined  by  hills  which,  closing, 
narrowed  it  in  at  the  eastern  and  western  extremities.  To 


120 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


the  N.W.  and  N.  the  hills — which  almost  merited  the  name 
of  mountains — were  peculiarly  rugged,  more  especially  to- 
wards their  summits.  About  N.N.E.  by  compass  from  our 
camp,  there  was  a pass  formed  by  a dip  or  break  in  the 
range  leading  north,  and  through  the  mouth  of  the  pass  we 
could  see  the  smoke  of  the  hunting  parties  of  the  Araucanian 
Indians,  who  were,  however,  many  leagues  distant.  Through- 
out Patagonia  smoke  is  always  visible  at  a great  distance, 
and  the  practised  eyes  of  the  Indians  can  distinguish  it  from 
the  clouds,  when  ordinary  persons  would  be  unable  to  dis- 
cern it  unless  pointed  out  to  them.  On  the  southern  and 
eastern  sides  of  the  valley  lay  a range  of  hills,  the  rugged 
summits  of  which  rose  from  lower  slopes  of  more  regular 
swell,  and  presenting  more  even  and  down-like  surfaces  than 
those  on  the  western  and  northern  sides.  Immediately  above 
our  encampment  the  hill  of  Henno,  from  which  the  valley  is 
named,  rose  from  the  plain.  Near  the  summit  of  this  hill 
Orkeke  and  myself,  who  for  amusement  had  ridden  up  to  it, 
one  day  came  across  the  bleached  skeleton  of  a man,  perhaps 
one  of  two  young  Argentines  who,  as  I was  subsequently  in- 
formed, had  travelled  thus  far  in  company  with  the  Indians, 
and  had  been  for  some — or  no — reason  killed  by  them  near 
this  spot.  In  the  surrounding  hills  red  porphyry  frequently 
cropped  out,  and  also  veins  of  a red  agate,  unlike  the  flint 
agate  so  common  in  all  the  plains  of  Patagonia.  The  rocks 
near  the  summit  of  the  hills  were  generally  of  igneous 
formation,  and  on  the  slopes  of  these  hills  frequent  springs 
gushed  out,  easily  discoverable  from  a distance  by  the  vivid 
green  of  the  grass  growing  round  them.  As  we  gazed  down 
from  the  height  of  Henno,  the  valley  lay  before  us  like  a 
picture ; our  few  toldos  were  situated  in  a group  to  the 
east,  on  the  south  side  of  the  stream ; about  a quarter  of  a 
mile  to  the  north  the  thirty  or  forty  toldos  of  the  Northern 
Indians  were  pitched,  and  opposite  to  them,  on  the  north 
side  of  the  stream,  those  of  the  party  commanded  by  Jackechan 
or  Juan.  The  scene  was  animated  but  peaceful : here  might 


HENNOKA  IK  TO  T ECKEL. 


121 


be  seen  a party  of  young  men  playing  at  ball,  in  another  a 
man  breaking  a colt,  and  down  by  the  side  of  the  stream 
groups  of  girls  bathing,  or  wandering  in  the  swamps  picking 
the  wild  spinach,  which  grew  all  along  the  margin  of  the 
water  in  great  quantities.  One  day  I went  on  an  excursion 
with  the  children  to  pluck  spinach  and  plunder  the  nests  of 
wild  ducks  and  upland  geese,  from  which  we  returned  laden 
with  spoil,  and  in  the  evening  a stew,  d la  Tehuelche,  was 
made  with  ostrich  grease,  spinach,  and  eggs,  which  combina- 
tion was  universally  approved  of.  Another  day  we  went 
fishing,  and  after  catching  several  with  a hook  and  line, 
voted  it  slow  work,  so  contrived  a net  by  sewing  two  ponchos 
together,  and  waded  into  the  stream  dragged  the  shallow 
parts,  and,  notwithstanding  the  duck-weed,  which  rather 
impeded  us,  made  several  good  hauls,  the  take  consisting 
of  the  perch-like  fish  and  a black  species  of  cat-fish : the 
Indians,  however,  except  Casimiro,  wrnuld  not  eat  the  fish, 
and  evidently  regarded  my  enjoyment  of  them  much  as  an 
Englishman  would  at  first  view  their  appreciation  of  blood. 
Another  day  we  went  on  an  expedition  to  dig  up  a species 
of  root  somewhat  resembling  a parsnip,  but  although  we 
grubbed  about  for  an  hour  our  efforts  were  only  scantily 
rewarded  by  a few  small  roots,  which  were  given  to  the 
children.  One  roasted  in  the  ashes,  at  Mrs.  Orkeke’s  invita- 
tion I tasted,  and  found  it  rather  tasteless  and  insipid. 

During  our  stay  in  this  pleasant  resting-place  the  weather 
was  bright  and  sunny,  and  on  calm  days  warm,  and  the 
absence  of  rain  almost  made  it  appear  like  summer  ; but 
whenever  the  west  wind  blew,  the  piercing  cold  dispelled  the 
passing  illusion.  The  long  delay  which  was  necessary  to 
recruit  our  horses,  in  anticipation  of  a campaign  against 
the  young  guanaco  and  the  wild  cattle,  was  most  acceptable 
to  all  the  members  of  our  party  ; and  after  the  two  preceding 
months  of  quarrels,  real  and  suspected  dangers,  and  forced 
marches,  our  present  peaceable  existence,  though  devoid  of 
adventure,  was  thoroughly  enjoyable.  An  occasional  hunting 


122 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


party,  interchange  of  visits  and  card  parties  with  the  recent 
arrivals,  fishing,  foraging  for  birds’  eggs,  spinach,  &c.,  with 
some  flirting,  and,  by  way  of  business,  a parlemento  or  two, 
made  our  time  pass  merrily  enough  at  Henno. 

Our  hunting  parties  were  under  the  direction  of  ‘ the 
oldest  inhabitant,’  an  aged  cacique  called  Guenalto,  with 
venerable  white  hair,  and  who  had  been  crippled  by  a lance- 
thrust,  received  to  his  honour  be  it  said,  while  endeavour- 
ing to  mediate  between  two  of  his  friends.  His  great  age 
and  amiable  character  commanded  universal  respect ; and 
on  a hunting  morning  he  would  sit  under  a bush  and  speechify 
for  half  an  hour,  recounting  old  deeds  of  prowess,  and  ex- 
horting us  to  do  our  best.  The  old  man  was  a frequent  and 
welcome  visitor  at  our  toldo,  where  he  was  encouraged  to 
indulge  to  his  heart’s  content  in  long-winded  stories.  My 
compass  greatly  excited  his  curiosity,  and  he  took  it  into  his 
head  that  it  possessed  a magical  power  which  could  effect 
the  restoration  of  the  use  of  his  arm.  He  accordingly  begged 
to  be  allowed  to  hold  it  in  his  hand ; and  sat  patiently,  with 
an  air  of  awe  and  faith  combined,  for  an  hour,  afterwards 
declaring  that  the  operation  had  done  him  much  good.  We 
greatly  pleased  him  by  repairing  his  coat  of  mail,  a complete 
tunic  of  heavy  iron  chains,  of  unknown  antiquity,  bound 
together  by  strips  of  hide,  and  weighing  over  a hundred- 
weight. This  he  informed  me  he  only  put  on  to  defend  him- 
self from  ‘ foolish  Indians.’ 

His  use  of  my  compass  was  rivalled  by  the  custom  of 
other  friends,  who  were  wont  to  borrow  it  when  engaged  in 
a game  of  cards  ; their  belief  being  that  the  magic  instru- 
ment gave  luck  to  the  happy  possessor  for  the  time  being ; 
and  I often  thought  that  it  was  fortunate  I had  brought  no 
other  instrument,  as  1 shooting  the  sun’  would  have  been 
certainly  regarded  as  a piece  of  sorcery,  and  any  death  or 
accident  happening  afterwards  would  have  been  visited  on 
the  head  of  the  magician.  As  it  was,  my  taking  notes  was 
often  regarded  with  suspicious  curiosity,  and  inquiries  made 


HENNOKA  IK  TO  T ECKEL. 


123 


as  to  wliat  there  could  possibly  be  in  that  place  to  write 
about,  as  although  the  Tehuelche  mind  can  comprehend 
writing  letters  to  friends  or  officials,  it  by  no  means  under- 
stands keeping  a journal ; and  ‘ some  untutored  Indian’ 
might  probably,  if  suspicious  that  ‘ i’faith  he’ll  prent  it,’ 
instead  of  waiting  to  cut  up  the  book,  anticipate  all  re- 
viewers by  cutting  up  the  intended  author  himself. 

On  the  18th  of  November  the  camp  at  Henno  was  broken 
up,  and  all  marched  a few  leagues  to  the  west,  crossing  suc- 
cessive rocky  ridges  running  parallel  to  the  Cordillera,  and 
divided  by  well-watered  valleys,  and  encamped  near  a valley 
watered  by  the  same  river,  which  between  this  place  and 
Henno  makes  a considerable  bend.  This  station  was  named 
‘ Chiriq,’  from  a description  of  bush,  with  a leaf  somewhat 
resembling  that  of  the  sloe,  which  grows  abundantly  on  the 
banks  of  the  stream.  The  wood  of  this  shrub  is  soft  and  of 
little  value,  but  burns  well  when  dry.  At  this  time  neither 
flower  nor  fruit  was  visible,  but  it  was  described  to  me  as 
bearing  a berry  resembling  the  currant.  Since  our  departure 
from  the  wooded  river  Sengel,  a description  of  cactus,  or,  as 
the  Spaniards  call  it,  tuna,  bearing  a tasteless  fruit  some- 
thing like  the  ordinary  prickly  pear,  had  been  met  with 
occasionally,  and  found  very  troublesome,  for  as  it  grows  close 
to  the  ground  its  spines  are  very  apt  to  lame  the  horses  if  not 
carefully  avoided  in  the  chase.  From  Chiriq  a large  plain 
appeared  to  extend  for  some  leagues  to  the  westward,  bounded 
north  and  south  by  a wooded  range  of  hills,  and  extending 
apparently  to  the  bases  of  the  lofty  snow-covered  peaks  of 
the  Cordillera,  which  appeared  to  form  a complete  barrier. 

During  our  stay  here  an  incident  occurred  which  led  to 
the  collection  and  comparison  of  the  traditions  concerning 
the  hidden  or  enchanted  city  which  still  are  current  and 
believed  among  the  Indians  and  Chilotes. 

One  day  while  hunting  we  were  startled  by  a loud  report, 
as  of  the  discharge  of  a cannon,  and  looking  to  the  west  saw 
a black  cloud  of  smoke  hanging  above  the  peaks  of  the  Cor- 


124 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


dillera.  My  companion  Jackechan  told  me  that  on  several 
previous  visits  to  this  station  the  Indians  had  observed 
similar  columns  of  smoke  in  the  same  direction.  On  one 
occasion  so  convinced  were  they  that  it  was  caused  by  human 
agency,  that  a party  set  out  to  endeavour  to  penetrate  the 
forests  and  reach  the  dwellings  of  the  unknown  residents, 
which  the  smoke  was  believed  to  point  out.  They  proceeded 
some  distance  into  the  recesses  of  the  mountain  forests,  but 
the  extreme  difficulties  of  travelling  compelled  them  at  last 
to  abandon  their  purpose  and  retrace  their  steps.  It  is  of 
course  most  probable  that  both  the  explosion  and  the  smoke 
proceeded  from  some  unknown  active  volcano  in  the  range  ; 
but  the  Indians  firmly  believe  in  the  existence  either  of  an 
unknown  tribe,  or  of  an  enchanted  or  hidden  city.  The 
Araucanians  when  met  with  farther  north  had  a story  current 
amongst  them  of  having  discovered  a settlement  of  white 
people,  who  spoke  an  unknown  tongue,  in  the  recesses  of  the 
mountains  in  the  same  vicinity.  The  Chilotes  and  Chilians 
from  the  western  side  fondly  cherish  the  belief  in  the  exist- 
ence of  La  Ciudad  Encantada,  and  the  mythical  people  Los 
Cesares,  to  the  discovery  of  which,  according  to  De  Angelis — 
to  whose  research  is  due  the  collection  of  all  the  records  on 
the  subject — the  attention  of  Buenos  Ayres,  Lima,  and  Chili 
was  so  long  directed.  A Chilote  or  Valdivian,  name  Juan 
Antonio,  narrated  to  .me  that  he  knew  a man  who  was  ac- 
quainted with  another  who  had  heard  from  a third  that  the 
last-named  deponent  was  one  of  a party  who  visited  the  coast 
opposite  to  Chiloe  for  the  purpose  of  wood  cutting.  They  as- 
cended in  their  boat  a river,  which  as  described  was  probably 
the  upper  course  of  that  which  we  afterwards  struck  in  the 
Cordillera.  Having  reached  the  woods,  they  separated  to  cut 
timber.  One  of  the  number  was  missing  at  the  evening 
camp-fire  ; his  comrades,  however,  waited  for  him,  but  gave 
him  up  at  last,  and  were  already  preparing  to  return,  when 
he  rejoined  them,  and  recounted  a strange  adventure.  Deep 
in  the  forest  he  had  come  upon  a path,  which  he  followed 


HENNOKAIK  TO  T ECKEL. 


125 


for  some  distance,  till  he  heard  the  sound  of  a bell,  and  saw 
clearings,  by  which  he  knew  himself  to  be  near  a town  or 
settlement.  He  soon  met  some  white  men,  who  made  him 
prisoner,  and  after  questioning  him  as  to  the  cause  of  his 
being  there,  blindfolded  him,  and  led  him  away  to  an  exceed- 
ingly rich  city,  where  he  was  detained  prisoner  for  several 
days.  At  last  he  was  brought  back,  still  blindfolded,  and 
when  the  bandage  was  removed  found  himself  near  the  place 
of  his  capture,  whence  he  made  his  way  back  to  his  comrades. 
Juan  Antonio,  the  narrator,  and  Mena,  one  of  the  Chilian 
deserters  who  was  present,  fully  believed  this  story,  which, 
however,  bears  a suspicious  resemblance  to  one  told  a hun- 
dred years  before  ; and  both  declared  that  it  was  all  caused 
by  witchcraft  or  enchantment. 

Another  curious  story  was  related  to  me,  the  hero  of  which 
was  a mischievous  imp  of  twelve  years  old,  who  was  after- 
wards attached  to  my  service  as  page,  and  for  impudence 
and  uselessness  might  have  been  a page  of  the  court  of  Louis 
Quatorze.  He  had  been  in  company  with  Fayel’s  tribe  of 
Indians  and  Yaldivians  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  Cor- 
dillera. One  day  the  hopeful  boy  was  missed,  and  although 
careful  search  was  made,  no  traces  of  him  were  discoverable. 
Three  months  afterwards  he  turned  up  again,  dressed  in  the 
same  clothes  and  in  remarkably  good  condition,  his  spirits 
and  impudence  undiminished.  My  friend  Ventura  Delgado, 
a white  Valdivian,  who  was  in  the  camp  at  the  time  of  his 
absence  and  return,  vouched  from  personal  observation  for 
so  much  of  the  story.  When  questioned  as  to  his  where- 
abouts and  with  whom  had  he  been,  he  answered  with  con- 
fidence, ‘With  the  man  on  the  island  in  the  lake.’  There 
was  no  known  lake  nearer  than  Nahuel-huapi,  thirty  miles 
distant,  though  a chain  of  lakes  must  from  old  accounts 
exist  within  the  Cordillera  ; and  it  certainly  was  strange  how, 
if  he  had  wandered  in  the  forest  for  so  long  a period,  sub- 
sisting on  roots,  strawberries,  and  the  plant  named  talka,  he 
should  have  preserved  his  well-fed  condition  ; it  was  equally 


126 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


puzzling  to  imagine  why  if  made  a captive  by  strangers  he 
should  have  been  allowed  to  return. 

Another  curious  fable  was  told  by  my  guide  J’aria,  when 
we  were  travelling  from  Punta  Arena,  apropos  of  the  wild 
animals  in  Patagonia,  on  which  Lieut.  Gallegos  was  enlarging. 
J’aria  asked  if  I had  ever  heard  of  the  Tranco,  or  Trauco, 
which  the  Chilotes  aver  inhabits  the  western  forests  of  the 
Cordillera.  Gallegos  declared  that  there  was  no  doubt  of 
its  existence,  and  described  it  as  possessing  the  form  of  a 
wild  man,  covered  with  a fell  of  coarse  shaggy  hair.  This 
nondescript — a specimen  of  which  would  no  doubt  be  in- 
valuable to,  though  not  met  with  on  those  coasts  by  Mr. 
Darwin — is  said  to  descend  from  the  impenetrable  forests 
and  attack  the  cattle  on  which  it  preys.  This  is  possibly  a 
pure  invention,  emanating  from  the  aguardiente  muddled 
brain  of  a Chilian,  but  it  seems  to  have  a certain  relation  to 
the  vague  stories  of  unknown  wild  tribes  dwelling  in  the 
unexplored  and  wooded  mountain  regions.  It  is  hard  to 
convey  the  sense  of  mysterious  space  and  undiscoverable 
dwelling-places  impressed  on  the  spectator  by  the  vast  soli- 
tudes of  the  mountains  and  forests  of  the  Cordillera.  The 
inexplicable  sounds  of  crashing  rocks,  or  explosions  from  un- 
known volcanoes,  and  the  still  stranger  tones  which  resemble 
bells  and  voices,  all  suggest  to  the  ignorant  and  superstitious 
natives  confirmation  of  the  strange  circumstantial  stories 
handed  down  for  several  generations ; and  it  is  hard  for  any 
one,  even  with  the  assistance  of  educated  reason,  to  resist 
the  powerful  spell  of  the  legends  told  in  sight  of  these 
mysterious  mountains.  My  readers  will  perhaps  laugh  at  the 
narration  of  these  vagaries  of  imagination,  or  will  inquire 
what  is  the  legend  of  the  Cesares,  and  of  the  enchanted 
city.  If  they  have  read  the  delightful  pages  of  ‘ Westward 
Ho,’  they  will  not  be  unacquainted  with  the  shifting  mirage 
of  that  rich  city  ; which,  from  Mexico  to  the  Magdalena, 
mocked  the  search  of  so  many  eager  adventurers.  The  Gran 
Quivira  of  New  Mexico,  the  fabled  Iximaya,  the  El  Dorado 


IIENNOKA  IK  TO  TECKEL. 


127 


of  Guayana,  and  El  Gran  Paytiti  of  Brazil,  the  baseless 
fabrics  of  many  a golden  vision,  are  found  repeated  with 
change  of  place  and  circumstances  in  this  city  of  Los  Cesares. 
There  is  a curious  combination  of  three  distinct  strands  of 
legends  in  the  chain  which  connects  the  marvellous  stories 
of  the  Northern  Indians  and  Chilotes  with  the  accounts  so 
circumstantially  deposed  to,  and  firmly  believed  by,  the 
Spaniards  of  the  last  century.  The  first  is  the  conquest  of 
Los  Cesares  in  1539.  Sebastian  Cabot,  from  his  settlement 
of  Carcaranal  on  the  Parana,  sent  his  pilot  Cesar  with  120 
soldiers  to  explore  the  river,  60  being  left  to  garrison  the 
fort  ;*  this  expedition  proceeded  as  far  as  the  junction  of  the 
Parana  and  Paraguay,  which  latter  river  they  ascended  to 
the  Laguna  Sta.  Anna,  on  the  way  defeating  the  hostile 
Indians.  They  reached  the  boundaries  of  the  Guaranis, 
with  whom  they  made  friendship  and  returned.  They  next 
set  out  to  proceed  overland  to  Peru,  and  crossed  the  Cor- 
dillera. After  making  their  way  against  incredible  difficul- 
ties, they  reached  a province,  the  inhabitants  of  which  wmre 
rich  in  cattle,  vicunas,  and  gold  and  silver.  The  ruler  of  the 
province,  ‘ a great  lord,’  at  whose  capital  they  at  last  arrived, 
received  his  Spanish  visitors  kindly,  and  entertained  them 
with  all  honour,  until  at  their  own  choice  they  were  allowed 
to  return  enriched  with  presents  of  gold  and  precious  stuffs. 
The  Spaniards  regained  their  fort  on  the  Parana  only  to  find 
it  a deserted  ruin  ; the  Indians  having  surprised  and  mas- 
sacred the  garrison.  Cesar  thereupon  led  his  party  to  the 
settlements,  and  thence  started  on  another  expedition,  in 
which  he  again  crossed  the  Cordillera,  and  from  a height 
beheld,  as  he  imagined,  the  waters  of  the  Pacific  and  Atlantic 
on  either  hand,  probably  mistaking  some  large  lagoon  for  the 
distant  Atlantic.  He  then  made  his  way  up  the  coast  to 
Atacama,  and  thence  to  Cuzco,  at  which  city  he  joined  the 
conquerors  just  at  the  period  of  the  capture  of  the  ill-fated 
Inca  Atahuallpa. 


* Fte.  S.  Espiritu. 


128 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


This  marvellous  traverse  of  all  the  country  was  spoken  of 
ever  after  as  the  conquest  of  Los  Cesares,  and  the  whole 
account  was  set  forth  by  Ruy  Diaz  Guzman  in  1612,  whose 
authority  was  one  of  the  Conquistadores  of  Peru,  named 
Arzon,  who  had  learned  all  the  particulars  from  Don  Cesar 
himself  in  Cuzco.  It  does  not  seem,  however,  that  more 
than' this  name,  and  perhaps  the  tradition  of  the  rich  Indian 
city,  were  preserved  in  the  romantic  rumours  that  began  to 
obtain  currency  in  the  seventeenth  century,  and  continued 
to  gain  credit  till  1781,  when  the  Fiscal  of  Chili,  having 
been  charged  to  make  inquiry,  summed  up  in  an  elaborate 
state  paper  all  the  evidence  in  favour  of  the  existence  of  a 
rich  and  strong  city,  situated  somewhere  between  45°  and 
56°  south,  and  urged  the  Spanish  Government  to  authorise 
an  expedition  to  discover  and  take  possession  of  it.  The 
city  was  described  by  various  veracious  (?)  authorities  as 
‘ defended  by  walls,  ditches,  and  ravelins,  the  only  entrance 
being  protected  by  a drawbridge,  besides  which  cautious 
sentries  were  always  stationed  on  an  adjoining  hill  to  detect 
intrusive  strangers.  The  buildings  were  sumptuously  con- 
structed, the  houses  being  of  wrought  stone  with  azotea 
roofs  ; and  the  churches  were  covered  with  glittering  roofs  of 
silver,  and  gorgeously  furnished  within.  Of  silver,  too,  were 
all  utensils,  knives,  and  even  ploughshares  made ; and  the 
inhabitants  used  golden  stools  and  seats.  They  were  light- 
complexioned,  with  blue  eyes  and  thick  beards,  and  spoke  a 
language  unintelligible  to  both  Spaniards  and  Indians.  They 
wore  jackets  of  blue  cloth,  yellow  capes,  and  blue  wadmal 
drawers  and  loose  silk  trousers,  with  large  boots  and  small 
three-cornered  hats ! They  possessed  numerous  cattle, 
marked  with  brands  similar  to  those  of  the  Spanish  colonists ; 
but  their  principal  article  of  cultivation  was  pepper,  in  which 
they  traded  with  their  neighbours,  maintaining  withal  a 
complete  system  of  exclusive  isolation.’  By  one  account  the 
population  was  composed  of  the  descendants  of  the  crews 
of  several  ships  which  had  been  wrecked  in  the  Straits  of 


EENNOKA  IK  TO  T ECKEL. 


129 


Magellan  from  1523  to  1539,  the  survivors  of  which  had 
made  their  way  overland  and  founded  a settlement.  A 
wandering  padre  was  said  to  have  received  the  news  of  its 
existence  from  some  Indians,  accompanied  by  a knife  as  a 
token,  which  was  recognised  as  having  belonged  to  the  captain 
of  a stranded  vessel.  The  padre  set  out  to  discover  his 
countrymen,  but  lost  his  life  on  the  road.  Another  more 
precise  tradition  declared  that  the  surviving  inhabitants  of 
Osorno,  after  having  maintained  a heroic  defence  against  the 
Araucanians,  under  the  victorious  chief  Caupolican,  in  1539, 
made  good  their  escape  with  then'  families  and  cattle  to  a 
peninsula  in  a great  lagoon  thirty  miles  long  and  seven  or 
eight  wide,  situate  near  Reloncavi,  or  the  volcano  called 
Osomo,  where  they  built  a city  strongly  defended  on  the 
landward  side  by  a fosse  and  drawbridge  raised  every  night. 
This  lagoon  was  by  others  said  to  be  that  of  Payeque,  near  a 
rapid  stream  named  Llanqueco.  An  explorer  named  Roxas, 
in  1714,  who  started  from  Buenos  Ayres,  and  whose  route 
lay  south-west  from  Tandil  and  the  Yolcan,  gives  most  pre- 
cise distances  and  landmarks  to  define  the  position  of  the 
Cesares.  He  mentions  especially  a river  with  a ford  only 
passable  during  one  period  of  the  year,  and  a hill  on  which 
is  found  much  magnetic  iron  ore.  These  landmarks,  and 
the  rest  of  his  description,  point  to  the  locale  of  that  remark- 
able rock  formation  mentioned  in  page  105,  which,  seen  from 
a distance,  might  well  cheat  a traveller  into  the  belief  that 
he  beheld  a fortified  town.  Waki  pointed  it  out  to  me,  and 
said,  jokingly,  ‘ Perhaps  Christians  live  there.’  The  ‘Indians 
of  veracity,’  so  frequently  quoted  in  these  accounts,  who 
were,  however,  all  bound  to  keep  secret  the  access  to  the  city, 
doubtless  confused  their  recollections  of  different  settlements 
visited  in  then-  migrations ; and  the  Spaniards,  prepared  to 
receive  any  new  wonder,  wove  into  the  marvellous  tale  all 
the  stories  told  them,  and  regarded  the  joint  fiction  as  un- 
doubted fact.  But  two  more  remarkable  phases  of  this  legend, 
and  then  we  return  to  practical  Indian  life.  A military 


9 


130 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


party,  who  set  out  in  1777  from  Kio  Bueno,  and  marched  to 
Lake  Llanquechue,  crossed  the  passes  of  the  Cordillera,  under 
Osorno,  and  passed  the  night  near  the  snow  line.  They 
heard  distant  artillery,  and  beheld  the  head  of  a great 
Laguna  on  the  eastern  side ; they  brought  back  the  astound- 
ing intelligence  that  two  distinct  towns  existed,  one  peopled 
by  a race  of  Spanish  origin,  the  Auca-Huincas,  at  war  with 
the  Tehuelches ; and  the  other  by  Englishmen,  or  Moro- 
Huincas,  who  lived  in  amity  with  the  Indians.  And  the 
Fiscal  of  Chili,  in  his  report,  insisted  strongly  on  the  neces- 
sity of  rooting  out  these  audacious  islanders  who  had  dared 
to  plant  themselves  in  the  dominions  of  ‘ our  Lord  the  King.’ 
Just  as  the  jealous  fear  of  the  encroaching  English  were  thus 
mixed  up  in  the  Spanish  version  of  the  mysterious  Cesares, 
so  the  Indians  connected  them  with  the  traditionary  glories 
of  the  great  Inca  race,  and  spoke  of  the  Indian  Cesares  ; and 
the  potency  of  the  fable  was  shown  by  a proclamation  put 
forth  by  the  heroic  and  ill-starred  Tupac  Amaru,  who  headed 
the  unsuccessful  rebellion  against  the  tyrant  Christians  in 
1781,  styling  himself  ‘Inca,  Sehor  de  los  Cesares  y Ama- 
zonas, con  dominio  en  el  Gran  Paytiti.’  But  success  mocked 
his  grasp,  and  he  perished  by  the  hand  of  the  executioner, 
just  as  the  rich  and  coveted  city  whose  lordship  he  claimed 
has  eluded  many  an  explorer  who  has  sacrificed  his  life  in 
the  hopeless  search.  But  the  patient  reader  is  probably 
weary  of  enchanted  cities,  and  glad  to  return  to  the  daily 
routine  of  our  Indian  life,  though  it  was  at  this  time 
butcherly  enough.  It  was  the  all-important  season  of  young 
guanaco  hunting  ; and  though  the  chase  afforded  plenty  of 
riding,  it  could  hardly  be  said  to  offer  sport;  but  to  the 
Indians  it  was  a matter  of  business,  as  their  clothing  and 
stock  of  skins  to  trade  with  depended  on  the  number  of 
young  guanaco  killed  at  this  time.  Some  notes  of  the  habits 
of  the  guanaco  and  rhea,  or  ostrich,  which  furnish  the  Pata- 
gonian Indians  with  food  and  clothing,  may  not  be  out  of 
place,  though  all  critics  are  warned  that  they  are  not  those 


HENNOKAIK  TO  TECKEL.  131 

of  a naturalist,  but  simply  the  observations  of  a lover  of 
birds  and  beasts. 

The  guanaco,  known  to  the  Indians  as  ‘Nou,’  is  from 
three  to  four  feet  in  height,  and  from  four  to  five  in  length, 
measured  from  the  point  of  the  nostrils  to  the  tail.  The 
coat  is  woolly,  but  decreases  in  thickness  of  wool,  or  rather 
becomes  hairy,  about  the  head  and  legs.  Its  colour  is  of  a 
yellowish  red,  intermixed  with  white  in  various  parts  of  the 
body  ; more  especially  under  the  abdomen,  down  the  inside 
of  the  legs,  and  round  the  lips  and  cheeks  : the  white  also 
extends  up  the  inside  of  the  neck  and  throat.  The  shoulder 
is  slightly  arched  ; the  tail  short,  and  when  the  animal  is  in 
motion  slightly  elevated.  The  guanaco  abounds  over  a vast 
range  of  country,  extending  from  Peru  all  down  the  regions 
east  of  the  range  of  the  Cordillera  of  the  Andes,  over  the 
vast  plains  from  Mendoza  to  the  Straits  of  Magellan,  and 
even  to  Tierra  del  Fuego.  As  a rule,  one  male  guanaco  herds 
with  a troop  of  about  a hundred  females,  and  in  the  event  of 
their  being  disturbed  he  will  take  up  his  position  on  some 
neighbouring  pinnacle  of  rock,  and  commence  neighing 
something  after  the  fashion  of  a horse,  keeping  himself 
between  the  danger  and  his  wives.  At  the  breeding  season, 
however,  the  males  go  in  flocks  by  themselves,  as  do  the 
females.  Although  it  is  stated  in  Monsieur  Gay’s  admirable 
book  on  the  Zoology  of  Chili,  that  the  females  sometimes 
bear  three  fawns,  yet  this  must  be  a rare  case  : while  we 
were  hunting  and  killing  the  young  guanaco,  the  mothers 
invariably  became  separated,  the  young  ones  lagging  behind 
so  as  to  prevent  any  appropriation  of  them  to  then*  dams. 
However,  during  the  time  employed  in  killing  the  mothers, 
for  the  purpose  of  extracting  the  unborn  young  from  the 
womb,  I never  saw  or  heard  of  more  than  one  foetus  being 
found.  The  guanacos  are  excessively  swift  of  foot,  indeed 
almost  unapproachable  by  horse  or  dog,  as  a few  buck  leaps 
take  them  away  far  beyond  the  speed  of  a horse.  They 
frequently  wait  to  allow  a pursuer  to  approach  close,  and 


132 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


then  bound  off,  and  speedily  distance  him.  Their  means  of 
defence  consist  chiefly  in  the  savate,  or  use  of  the  feet,  more 
especially  the  fore  ones,  although  they  also  bite  at  times,  and 
with  their  two  peculiar  canine  teeth  could  inflict  a severe 
wound. * I have  seen  places  where  a puma  and  a guanaco 
have  evidently  had  a severe  struggle,  always,  however, 
resulting  in  the  victory  of  the  puma,  as,  on  seeing  these 
marks,  we  invariably  searched  for  and  found  the  body  near, 
carefully  covered  over  by  the  ‘ leon.’  The  flesh  of  the 
guanaco  is  excellent,  something  resembling  mutton ; the 
young  guanaco  being  more  like  very  tender  veal.  That  then- 
wool  might  be  turned  to  account  for  mercantile  purposes  is 
undoubted,  as  it  is  of  very  fine  texture,  and  is  at  the  present 
time  of  value  in  Chili,  where  it  is  woven  into  ponchos  which 
are  highly  prized.  Up  to  the  present  time  few  have  been 
domesticated,  but  they  become  very  tame,  and  might  at  a 
future  date  be  found  useful  as  beasts  of  burden,  as  they  are 
similar  in  most  respects  to  the  lama.  There  is  one  very 
remarkable  point  about  the  guanaco  ; at  certain  times  of  the 
year  a sort  of  secretion,  condensed  into  a hard  substance 
like  stone,  is  found  in  round  pieces,  varying  from  a quarter 
to  half  an  inch  in  diameter,  in  the  stomach.  To  these  stones 
some  of  the  Indians  attribute  medicinal  virtues.  The 
guanaco  is  of  use  to  the  Indians  in  every  way.  The  skin 
of  the  adult  is  used  to  make  the  coverings  of  the  toldos,  and 
that  of  the  unborn  or  young  ones  to  make  mantles  for 
clothes  ; the  sinews  of  the  back  furnish  them  with  thread  ; 
the  skin  of  the  neck,  which  is  particularly  tough  and  durable, 
with  lazos  or  thongs  for  bolas,  bridles,  &c.,  &c.  The  skin  of 
the  hock  supplies  them  with  shoes  or  coverings  for  the  bolas  ; 
from  the  thigh  bone  they  also  cut  out  dice,  or  make  a musical 
instrument.  On  attaining  the  age  of  about  two  months,  the 
coat  of  the  young  guanaco  begins  to  become  woolly,  and  the 
6kin  is  then  useless  for  mantles,  but  makes  sufficiently  good 


The  skull  of  a guanaco  is  well  figured  in  Mr.  Cunningham’s  work. 


HEN N OK AIK  TO  TEC K EL. 


133 


saddle-cloths.  The  animal  at  this  early  age  is  very  swift  of 
foot,  and  will  give  a good  chase.  They  attain  their  full  size 
the  second  or  third  year  after  birth,  and  the  adult  male 
cannot  he  better  described  than  as  apostrophised  by  Lieut. 
Gallegos.  As  we  watched  a solitary  guanaco  standing  on  a 
hill  above  us,  and  every  now  and  then  uttering  its  shrill 
warning  neigh,  ‘ Ah,’  said  Gallegos,  * you  are  a queer  animal ; 
you  have  the  neigh  of  a horse,  the  wool  of  a sheep,  the 
neck  of  a camel,  the  feet  of  a deer,  and  the  swiftness  of  the 
devil.’  The  Rhea  Darwinii,  called  by  the  Indians  ‘Mekyush,’ 
and  by  the  Spaniards  Avestrus  or  Ostrich,  which  name  is 
universally  applied  to  it,  is  peculiar  to  Patagonia,  few  being 
met  with  north  of  Rio  Negro,  and  none  being  found  that  I 
am  aware  of  in  any  other  part  of  the  globe  ; with  the  excep- 
tion, perhaps,  of  the  more  northern  and  plain-like  parts  of 
Tierra  del  Fuego,  opposite  the  country  extending  from  Cape 
Virgin  to  Oazy  Harbour.  It  is  a variety  of  the  Rhea 
Americana,  common  in  the  Argentine  provinces  of  Entre 
Rios  and  Santa  Fe,  also  scattered  over  the  Republic  of  the 
Banda  Oriental,  and  extending,  I believe,  as  far  north  as 
Rio  Grande  do  Sul  and  the  southern  Brazilian  province. 
They  exist  also  in  Chili,  on  the  plains  at  the  foot  of  the 
Cordillera  of  the  Andes.  The  chief  difference  between  these 
two  species  is  that  the  Patagonian  Rhea  Darwinii  is  smaller 
and  of  lighter  colour  than  the  American  Rhea.  The  Pata- 
gonian ostriches  are  very  swift  of  foot,  and  run  with  their 
wings  closed,  while  the  other  species  invariably  spread  theirs. 
The  former  birds  also  always  run  in  a straight  line,  except 
when  leaving  the  nest,  when  probably,  to  avoid  being 
tracked,  they  run  in  a circuitous  manner.  Their  plumage, 
that  is  to  say  the  wing  feathers,  are  an  object  of  commerce, 
and  fetch  at  present  about  a dollar  a pound  in  Buenos  Ayres. 
Tbe  marrow  from  the  leg  bones  is  also,  I believe,  of  use  for 
making  pomade,  and  was  formerly,  if  not  at  present,  highly 
prized  in  Buenos  Ayres.  To  the  Indian  this  bird  is  invalu- 
able in  many  ways.  Besides  furnishing  their  most  favourite 


131  AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 

food,  from  the  sinews  of  the  leg  thongs  for  bolas  are  con- 
structed ; the  neck  is  used  as  a pouch  for  salt  or  tobacco  ; 
the  feathers  are  exchanged  for  tobacco  and  other  necessaries ; 
the  grease  from  the  breast  and  back  is  tried  out  and  secured 
in  bags  formed  of  the  skin  (taken  off  during  the  spring 
season,  when  the  females,  like  all  the  Patagonian  animals 
except  the  puma,  are  thin) ; the  meat  is  more  nourishing 
and  more  relished  by  the  Indians  than  that  of  any  other 
animal  in  the  country,  and  the  eggs  form  a staple  commodity 
of  food  during  the  months  of  September,  October,  and 
November.  The  male  bird  stands  about  two  feet  and  a 
half  high,  and  is  to  he  distinguished  from  the  female  by 
its  being  of  a slightly  darker  colour,  and  of  greater  size  and 
strength ; nevertheless,  it  requires  a practised  eye  to  detect 
the  difference  at  any  distance.  The  male  bird  is  also  swifter. 
Them  usual  food  consists  of  short  grass  and  the  seeds  of 
various  shrubs,  but  more  especially  of  tender  grass,  which  I 
have  on  several  occasions  watched  them  plucking,  from  a 
convenient  rock  which  hid  me  from  their  sight.  On  being 
alarmed  they  immediately  set  off  at  a great  speed  ; they 
possess  great  powers  of  eyesight.  If  met  or  obstructed  by 
horsemen  in  their  line  of  flight,  they  not  unfrequently  squat 
so  closely  that  they  can  scarcely  be  distinguished  from  the 
surrounding  rocks,  as  the  greyish  colour  of  their  plumage  so 
closely  resembles  the  almost  universal  aspect  of  the  Pampas 
of  Patagonia.  These  birds,  though  not  web-footed,  can 
swim  sufficiently  well  to  pass  a river.  In  the  winter  season 
it  is  not  unfrequent  for  the  Indians  to  drive  them  into  the 
water,  where,  them  legs  getting  numbed  with  cold,  they  are 
drifted  to  the  shore  by  the  current,  and  easily  captured, 
being  unable  to  move.  In  snowy  weather  they  are  also 
easily  taken,  as  them  eyes  appear  to  be  affected  by  the  glare 
of  the  white  snow,  and  their  saturated  plumage  doubtless 
becomes  heavier.  They  are  polygamous,  one  male  bird  con- 
sorting with  five  or  six  hens,  which  lay  their  eggs  in  the 
same  nest — a hole  about  two  feet  six  inches  in  diameter, 


HENNOKAIK  TO  T ECKEL. 


135 


scooped  out  of  the  earth.  They  begin  to  lay  in  the  early 
part  of  September,  the  number  of  eggs  in  each  nest  varying 
from  twenty  to  as  many  as  forty,  or  more.  In  the  early  part 
of  the  laying  season  extraneous  eggs  were  found  scattered  in 
different  parts  of  the  plain,  some  of  which  were  of  diminutive 
size.  Contrary  to  the  usual  rule  amongst  birds,  the  male 
sits  on  the  eggs,  and  when  the  chickens  are  hatched  assumes 
the  charge  of  the  brood.  The  young  run  immediately,  or 
shortly  after  emerging  from  the  shell,  and  are  covered  with 
a down  of  greyish  black  colour  on  the  back,  and  whitish  on 
the  breast  and  neck.  Their  cry  resembles  the  syllables 
pi,  pi,  pi,  uttered  in  a sharp  quick  manner.  The  old  male, 
when  any  dangers  appear,  feigns  to  be  hurt,  like  other  birds 
endeavouring  to  distract  the  attention  of  the  hunter,  in  order 
that  his  brood  may  escape  by  hiding  in  the  grass.  After  the 
male  has  sat  for  some  time  on  the  nest  (I  should  place  the 
period  of  incubation  at  about  three  weeks),  he  gets  thin,  and 
the  grass  closely  surrounding  the  nest  is  found  eaten  quite 
bare.  The  females  by  this  time  are  beginning  to  pick  up 
flesh,  which  is  a fortunate  provision  of  nature  for  the  Indians, 
who  cannot  subsist  on  lean  meat.  Whilst  the  females  are 
thin  they  are  killed  and  skinned,  the  meat  being  left,  and 
the  skins  sewn  into  mantles  for  sale  at  the  settlements. 
These  birds  at  that  period  are  much  afflicted  with  vermin, 
which  invade  the  toldos  and  guanaco  mantles  of  the  In- 
dians, and  cause  them  infinite  annoyance.  (A  useful  hint 
occurs  to  me  for  future  travellers  amongst  the  Patago- 
nians— never  allow  the  squaw  of  the  establishment  to  place 
ostrich  mantles  under  your  sleeping  hides.)  The  young  Rhea 
does  not  attain  its  full  plumage  or  size  until  the  second  year 
after  its  birth,  and  is  never  pursued  by  the  Indians  unless 
food  is  really  scarce.  The  eggs  are  eaten  in  all  stages,  fresh 
or  stale  ; the  Indians  not  recognising  much  difference  be- 
tween the  unhatched  chicken  and  the  unborn  guanaco.  The 
inveterate  destroyers  of  these  birds  are,  besides  their  human 
enemies,  the  puma  and  foxes,  the  former  of  which  will  sur- 


136 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


prise  and  kill  the  sitting  bird,  which  he  carefully  hides,  and 
then  proceed  to  eat  the  eggs  with  great  gusto.  "We  not 
unfrequently  found  the  eggs  broken  and  scattered  by  these 
animals,  whilst  the  bird  was  generally  discovered  hard  by. 
The  foxes,  I think,  content  themselves  with  sucking  the 
eggs  ; but  I was  assured  that  near  Geylum,  where  wild  cats 
are  common,  these  latter  will  kill  the  bird  on  the  nest,  like 
their  relatives  the  puma.  Besides  these  there  are  the  con- 
dors, eagles,  and  hawks,  which  no  doubt  commit  extensive 
ravages  on  the  young  broods.  With  all  these  difficulties  to 
contend  with,  the  Rhea  Darwinii  exists  in  great  numbers, 
and  if  not  kept  down  to  a certain  extent  by  the  Indians  and 
other  enemies  would  overrun  the  whole  country.  We  were, 
while  at  Chiriq,  busily  engaged  in  the  destruction  of  both 
guanaco  and  ostrich,  the  high  rugged  range  of  hills  that 
hounded  Chiriq  on  the  eastern  side  literally  swarming  with 
guanaco  ; and  as  the  females,  heavy  with  young,  could  not 
keep  up  their  speed  for  a long  distance,  one  man  not  unfre- 
quently captured  and  killed  five  and  six,  or  even  eight ; 
extracting  the  young  and  taking  its  skin  for  mantles  and  the 
carcase  for  food,  while  the  hide  of  the  mother  served,  if 
needed,  to  repair  the  toldo.  The  marrow  hones  also  were 
taken  as  a dainty,  but  the  meat  was  left  for  the  condors, 
puma,  and  foxes.  We  hunted  almost  every  day,  and  traversed 
nearly  all  the  surrounding  country.  The  plains  lying  to  the 
west  afforded  beautiful  ground  to  ride  over,  covered  with 
soft  grass,  but  a few  leagues  from  the  Cordillera  a sudden 
dip  occurs,  which  forms  a huge  basin,  lying  about  fifty  feet 
below  the  level  of  the  plain,  like  the  bed  of  a lake,  and 
extending  to  the  mountains ; the  surface  of  this  was  chiefly 
covered  with  grass,  hut  in  some  parts  the  yellow  clay  and 
beds  of  stone  were  visible.  On  the  higher  groirnd,  before 
reaching  this  basin,  numerous  lagoons  occurred,  round  one 
of  which  there  was  a large  gull-rookery,  and  the  inhabitants 
made  themselves  audible  at  a long  distance.  Here  also  I 
noticed  many  of  the  teru-tero,  a spur-winged  lapwing,  com- 


HEX  NORA  IK  TO  T ECKEL. 


137 


mon  near  Buenos  Ayres.  I had  encountered  them  even  as 
low  as  Santa  Cruz,  but  never  in  such  large  numbers.  Our 
hunts  on  the  plain  were  not  so  successful  as  those  on  the 
hilly  range,  although  in  the  previous  year  the  Indians  asserted 
that  the  reverse  had  been  the  case.  Perhaps  the  guanaco 
had  gained  in  experience,  and  felt  themselves  safer  in  the 
rocky  heights  where  riders  were  likely  to  get  bad  falls.  The 
Northern  Indians  rode  most  recklessly,  going  at  full  speed 
down  the  most  precipitous  places,  and,  strange  to  say, 
although  one  or  two  accidents  did  occur  resulting  in  broken 
limbs,  they  were  not  numerous.  This  speaks  volumes  for  the 
sure-footedness  of  their  horses.  It  is  their  custom,  when 
hunting  in  rocky  places,  to  place  hide  shoes  on  the  horses 
fore  feet  as  a safeguard  against  sharp  stones.  After  hunt- 
ing, it  was  the  rule  every  evening  for  those  owning  spare 
horses  (and  indeed  for  those  who  did  not)  to  repair  to  the 
racecourse  a little  before  sunset,  and  train  or  run  their 
horses,  or  look  on  at  the  others,  and  if  there  was  a race, 
make  bets.  The  manner  of  racing  is  something  similar  to 
that  in  vogue  amongst  the  Gauchos  in  the  provinces  of 
Bio  de  la  Plata,  except  that  it  is  generally  conducted  on 
principles  of  fair  play.  The  stakes  are  always  deposited 
before  the  race  comes  off : if  horses,  they  are  tied  out  handy; 
if  ornaments,  bolas,  &c.,  &c.,  they  are  placed  in  a heap,  the 
winners  removing  them  directly  the  race  is  decided.  The 
horses  are  run  bare-backed,  the  two  riders  starting  them- 
selves after  cantering  side  by  side  for  a few  yards.  Owing 
to  the  great  care  taken  in  training  the  horses,  very  few 
false  starts  ever  occur.  The  races  are  very  often  for  long  dis- 
tances, four  miles  or  a league  being  the  average,  although, 
of  course,  with  young  horses  the  distance  is  shorter.  The 
Indian  manner  of  breaking  colts  is  similar  to  that  of  the 
Gauchos  ; they  are,  however,  more  gentle  with  their  horses, 
and  consequently  break  them  better.  One  rarely  sees  a 
horse  amongst  the  Indians  that  is  not  perfectly  quiet ; indeed, 
the  smallest  children  are  nearly  always  mounted  on  the 


138 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


racers  and  best  horses,  although  if  a white  man  approaches 
or  attempts  to  catch  them  they  show  signs  of  fear  and 
temper.  Indeed,  there  appears  to  be  a sort  of  instinctive 
mutual  bond  between  the  Indians  and  their  horses.  For 
lameness  the  cure  most  prevalent  is  bleeding  in  the  fetlock 
with  an  awl ; sometimes  the  incision  is  made  higher  up  the 
leg,  and  the  awl  forced  nearly  through  the  horse’s  leg ; he 
is  then  tied  up  for  a short  time,  and  then  let  go,  and  the  cure 
is  generally  certain.  Of  course  before  the  bleeding  he  is  tied 
up  several  khours  without  water.  The  cure  for  sore  backs, 
which,  though  rare,  sometimes  occur  owing  to  an  ill-made 
saddle,  is  a species  of  aluminous  earth,  applied  to  the  wound 
after  it  has  been  cleansed  with  a knife.  This  earth  is  only 
found  in  the  southern  parts  of  the  country,  and  it  is 
very  difficult  to  obtain  any  of  this  much-prized  medicine 
from  the  Indians.  One  deposit  of  it  is  found  in  a cliff 
near  Lake  Viedma,  so  high  that  it  can  only  be  got  at  by 
throwing  stones  at  the  face  of  the  cliff,  and  so  dislodging  the 
earth. 

A few  lines  will  suffice  to  gratify  any  ‘ horsey-doggy  ’ friends 
who  may  be  curious  as  to  the  horse-flesh  and  dog-shows  of  the 
Indians.  The  horses  in  use  amongst  the  Southern  Indians 
are,  as  a rule,  of  a hardier  race  than  those  found  amongst  the 
Northern,  Araucanian,  and  Pampas  Indians.  Their  general 
size  is  about  fifteen  hands,  or  indeed  perhaps  less,  but  never- 
theless they  are  of  great  speed  and  endurance ; when  one 
takes  into  consideration  that  the  weight  of  their  riders  is 
frequently  over  fourteen  stone,  it  appears  extraordinary  that 
they  should  be  enabled  to  carry  them  in  the  way  they  do. 
The  horses  are,  of  course,  all  of  Spanish  origin,  hut  time, 
climate,  and  the  different  nature  of  the  country  have  altered 
them  to  a considerable  degree  from  the  original  race.  The 
horses  found  amongst  the  Northern  Tehuelches  are,  as  a rule, 
larger  than  those  previously  mentioned,  with  finer  heads  and 
smaller  legs ; they  are  also  extremely  swift,  and  being  bred 
frequently  from  captured  wild  mares,  are  admirably  adapted 


BENNOKAIK  TO  T ECKEL. 


139 


for  hunting  purposes.  The  horse,  however,  most  valued  is 
the  wild  horse  captured  and  tamed  ; these  differ  from  the 
others  in  being,  as  a rule,  of  larger  size  and  superior  speed. 
This,  I think,  only  applies  to  Northern  Patagonia,  as  I have 
in  other  parts  seen  wild  horses  which  in  no  way  equalled 
those  in  captivity.  The  horses  vary  in  colour,  those  cap- 
tured from  the  wild  herds  generally  being  a dark  bay,  black, 
or  brown.  Near  Port  San  Julian,  I am  informed  that  there 
are  numbers  of  wild  ponies,  about  the  size  and  make  of  a 
shelty,  which  the  children  play  with.  The  horses  are  entirely 
grass  fed,  and  in  consequence  of  the  dry  nature  of  the  pasture 
in  the  winter  season,  and  the  subsequent  hard  treatment, 
they  generally  get  very  thin  in  the  spring  time  of  the  year, 
but  soon  pick  up  condition  when  given  a few  days’  rest,  and 
allowed  to  feed  on  the  fresh  pasture.  The  dogs  generally  in 
use  amongst  the  Patagonian  Indians  vary  considerably  both 
in  size  and  species.  First  of  all  comes  a sort  of  lurcher 
(smooth-haired),  bred  by  the  Indians  from  some  obtained  in 
the  Rio  Negro,  the  mothers  being  a description  of  mastiff, 
with  a muzzle,  however,  much  sharper  than  that  of  a mas- 
tiff proper ; they  are  also  very  swift,  and  have  longer  and 
lower  bodies.  Our  chief,  Orkeke,  kept  his  breed  of  this  dog, 
which  probably  had  been  derived  from  the  earlier  Spanish 
settlements,  pure  ; and  they  were,  for  hunting  purposes,  the 
best  I saw,  running  both  by  scent  and  view. 

Another  description  of  dog  observed  had  long  woolly  hair, 
and  indeed  much  resembled  an  ordinary  sheep  dog.  These 
were  passably  common  amongst  the  Indians,  but  most  of  the 
dogs  used  in  the  chase — which  are  nearly  all  castrated — are 
so  mixed  in  race  as  to  defy  specification.  I heard  of  a dog 
captured  from  some  Fuegians,  which  was  very  swift,  and 
answered  perfectly  to  our  description  of  harrier.  These 
Fuegians  are  probably  those  known  as  the  * Foot  ’ Indians, 
who,  by  those  who  have  descended  on  them  coasts,  have  been 
observed  to  use  dogs  for  hunting  purposes. 

Casimiro  informed  me  that  Quintuhual’s  people  formerly 


140 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


hunted  on  foot,  with  a large  sort  of  dog,  which,  from  his 
description,  must  have  resembled  a deer  hound.  The  dogs 
are  rarely  fed,  being  allowed  generally  to  satiate  themselves 
in  the  chase.  The  hounds  belonging  to  Orkeke,  and  one  or 
two  others,  were  exceptions  to  this  rule,  being  fed  with 
cooked  meat  when  it  was  plentiful.  The  women  keep  pet 
lap-dogs  of  various  descriptions,  generally  a sort  of  terrier, 
some  of  them  much  resembling  the  Scotch  terrier.  ‘ Ako,’ 
for  instance,  was  to  all  appearance  a thoroughbred  dog  of 
that  breed.  These  little  lap-dogs  are  the  torment  of  one’s 
life  in  camp  : at  the  least  sound  they  rush  out  yelping,  and 
set  all  the  big  dogs  off ; and  in  an  Indian  encampment  at 
night,  when  there  is  anything  stirring,  a continual  concert  of 
bow-wows  is  kept  up.  The  dogs  are  fierce  towards  strangers, 
but  generally  content  themselves  with  surrounding  them, 
showing  their  teeth  and  barking,  unless  set  on.  That  they 
are  ugly  customers  at  night  an  amusing  instance  will  prove. 
One  morning  a dog  was  found  dead  near  its  owner’s  toklo, 
which  had  evidently  been  knocked  on  the  head  with  a bola, 
and  finished  with  a knife ; the  owner  made  a great  outcry, 
but  no  explanatian  could  be  had.  It  subsequently  became 
known  to  me  that  a young  gallant  had  sought  admission  to 
the  toldo  of  his  inamorata  by  the  accustomed  method  of 
cautiously  lifting  the  back  tent  cover  from  the  ground,  and 
dexterously  crawling  underneath  ; when  half  through,  he  felt 
his  leg  seized  in  a pair  of  powerful  jaws.  The  lady  was 
highly  amused  at  the  predicament  of  her  lover,  who,  how- 
ever, extricated  himself  by  a mighty  and  well-directed  kick 
with  his  foot  in  the  muzzle  of  his  assailant.  When  return- 
ing from  his  ‘ rendezvous  ’ he  met  his  active  enemy,  and 
vindictively  knocked  him  on  the  head,  and,  to  make  sure 
work,  cut  his  throat ; but  his  leg  carried  after  all  a deeper 
scar  than  his  heart  as  a token  of  the  love-adventure,  and 
when  the  story  was  told,  and,  as  may  be  supposed,  excited 
roars  of  laughter,  it  recalled  forcibly  to  my  mind, 

‘ He  jests  at  scars  who  never  felt  a wound.’ 


HENNOKA  IK  TO  TECKEL. 


141 


Our  camp  at  Chiriq  presented  quite  the  appearance  of  a 
town  of  toldos,  and  fresh  arrivals  were  still  expected  from 
the  S.W. ; but  the  Indians  of  the  latter  party,  with  whom  we 
had  not  yet  made  acquaintance,  sent  a chasqui  with  an  invi- 
tation to  Crime  to  join  their  party,  and  a message  that  they 
would  ultimately  meet  us  at  Teckel.  Accordingly,  Crime, 
who  was  now  rich  in  horses  and  gear,  having  received  many 
presents,  bid  us  adieu,  and  set  off  with  an  imposing  caval- 
cade. Poor  fellow ! he  had  better  have  remained  with  us, 
as  the  sequel  will  show. 

The  weather  during  the  first  weeks  of  our  stay  in  Chiriq 
was  warm  and  fine,  but  latterly  the  wind  veered  round  to  the 
west,  and  it  changed  to  sleet  and  cold  rain,  and  the  normal 
Patagonian  climate.  The  humour  of  the  Indians  seemed  as 
variable,  for  old  Orkeke  grew  exceedingly  jealous.  Jackechan 
often  used  to  lend  me  a horse  on  the  hunting  excursions,  and 
Orkeke  one  day  asked  me  in  a sullen  manner  whether  I 
wished  to  change  my  toldo,  and  go  with  my  friend.  My 
reply  that  I had  no  wish  to  do  so  at  present  quieted  him  for 
the  time,  and  he  immediately  offered  me  one  of  his  best 
horses  for  the  next  day,  which  was  a real  treat.  I am  afraid 
I rather  abused  his  generosity,  as  we  had  a great  day  chasing 
large  herds  of  guanaco,  and  with  a racer  for  a mount,  one 
was  induced  to  ride  furiously.  On  the  20th  of  November  it 
was  decided  to  break  up  the  camp  and  divide  into  two  parties 
to  hunt,  it  being  considered  that  our  united  numbers  were 
too  great  for  successful  hunting  in  one  place.  When  all 
were  packing  up  and  preparing  to  start,  a row  nearly  broke 
out  between  two  of  our  old  party  : indeed  it  was  with  the 
greatest  difficulty,  and  only  through  the  intervention  of 
Casimiro,  Hinchel,  and  two  or  three  more,  that  blood  was 
not  spilt.  Of  course,  if  the  fight  had  commenced  between 
these  two,  such  is  the  excitability  of  the  Indians  that  it 
would  soon  have  become  a general  battle.  This,  and  a heavy 
shower  of  rain  coming,  prevented  our  march,  so  the  women  un- 
packed, and  the  horses  were  let  go  again.  Some  few  Indians 


142 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PA  TA  GO  HI  A NS. 


started  to  hunt,  but  came  back  shortly  almost  empty-handed, 
fairly  beaten  by  the  driving  sleet  and  snow.  During  our  stay 
most  of  us  bad  refitted  all  our  gear,  and  were  well  provided 
with  bolas ; many  were  the  necks  of  guanaco  stripped  to 
obtain  the  hide  for  them,  and  for  making  ‘ maneos  ’ (straps 
for  securing  horses’  legs),  whips,  cinctas  (girths),  lazos, 
&c.,  &c.  The  work  that  I preferred  was  plaiting  ostrich 
sinews  for  thongs  for  the  ostrich  bolas.  The  ostrich  sinews 
are  abstracted  by  dislocating  the  lower  joint  of  the  leg,  the 
first  sinew  is  then  pulled  out  by  hand,  and  the  other  drawn 
out  by  main  force,  using  the  leg  bone  as  a handle.  This 
bone  is  then  separated  from  the  foot,  and  the  sinews  left 
adhering  to  the  foot ; they  are  slightly  dried  in  the  sun, 
after  which  the  extracted  bone  is  used  to  separate  the  fibres 
by  drawing  it  sharply  up  the  sinews.  When  sufficiently 
separated,  they  are  cut  off  from  the  foot,  split  into  equal 
sizes  and  lengths,  and  laid  in  a moist  place  to  soften ; when 
sufficiently  soft,  they  are  made  into  thongs,  cooked  brains 
being  used  to  make  them  more  pliable,  and  lie  better  in  the 
plaits.  These  thongs  are  plaited  in  four  plaits  (round  sinnet) 
well  known  to  every  sailor,  but  the  ends  are  doubled  in  a 
peculiar  manner,  which  requires  practice  to  manage  well. 
Before  leaving  Chiriq  another  disturbance  was  nearly  taking 
place,  caused  by  one  of  the  Chilians  quitting  Tchang’s  toldo 
and  joining  that  of  a man  commonly  called  Santa  Cruz,  an 
Indian  well  known  at  Patagones,  and  allowed  a ration  of 
mares  from  the  Government.  Tchang,  immediately  on  hear- 
ing of  his  departure,  put  on  his  revolver  and  collared  the 
Chilian’s  horse.  To  this  Santa  Cruz  objected,  but  Tchang 
kept  the  horse,  and,  revolver  in  hand,  defied  anybody’s  claim 
to  it.  After  this  little  incident  the  camp  was  broken  up,  and 
the  two  parties  divided — Hinchel  marching  S.W.  and  our 
party  to  the  N.W. 

After  a very  cold  and  hungry  march  in  the  face  of  a 
bitterly  piercing  wind,  we  encamped  on  the  shores  of  a lagoon 
of  some  extent,  called  ‘ Hoshelkaik,’  which  signifies  ‘Windy- 


HENNOKAIK  TO  T ECKEL. 


143 


hill,’  and  certainly  is  worthy  of  its  name  ; for  during  our  stay 
a succession  of  S.W.  winds  blew  with  great  violence.  After 
our  arrival  a small  boy  cut  his  finger,  and,  according  to 
custom,  a mare  was  killed.  Some  of  the  meat  sent  to  our 
toldo  was  thankfully  received,  as  we  were  all  half  starved. 
Having  strolled  through  the  camp  and  visited  Cayuke’s  toldo, 
I found  that  Casimiro  had  not  arrived,  having  started,  to  my 
great  disgust,  with  the  party  travelling  to  the  S.W.,  and 
taken  with  him  a specially  good  horse,  which  he  had  given 
me  in  exchange  for  a revolver.  I was,  however,  glad  to  find 
that  Jackechan,  the  Pampa  chief,  was  there,  and  we  had  a 
confabulation  and  smoke  together.  On  the  28rd,  the  pre- 
vious day  having  been  too  rough,  the  Indians  started  to 
hunt  the  enclosing  grassy  basin  before  mentioned  as  existing 
at  the  foot  of  the  mountains.  Immense  herds  of  guanaco 
were  driven  down,  and  being  encircled  by  men  and  fires  the 
sport  soon  commenced.  The  Tehuelches  had  for  some  reasons 
set  light  to  the  grass  in  every  available  part,  and  the  wind 
rising  to  a furious  gale,  the  fires  soon  spread  and  joined  in  an 
advancing  line.  Jackechan,  myself,  and  several  other  Indians 
were  in  the  centre  of  the  circle,  each  employed  in  skinning 
the  guanaco  we  had  already  killed,  when  suddenly  we  found 
that  we  were  encircled  in  flame  and  smoke,  and  that  if  we  did 
not  want  to  be  well  scorched  we  had  better  look  out  for  means 
of  exit.  Leaving  our  game,  we  galloped  at  the  spot  where 
the  smoke  appeared  thinnest,  but  after  riding  three  or  four 
minutes  with  our  faces  covered  up,  found  an  impassable 
barrier  of  flame  ; so,  half-maddened  with  the  hot  sand  dashed 
in  our  eyes  by  the  gale,  and  nearly  suffocated  with  smoke,  we 
galloped  down  the  line  of  flame  to  a spot  where,  the  grass 
being  stunted,  we  managed  to  get  through  without  injury, 
although  our  horses’  legs  were  singed  a little.  We  were  very 
thankful  to  breathe  pure  air,  though  the  atmosphere  was  still 
thick  with  smoke,  and  nothing  could  be  distinguished  of 
valley  or  anything  else.  Jackechan,  with  unerring  Indian 
instinct,  led  the  way  to  a stream  of  water,  where  we  were 


144 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


able  to  drink  and  wash  some  of  the  hot  sand  out  of  our  eyes. 
After  a quarter  of  an  hour’s  rest  and  a smoke,  as  the  flames  had 
passed  on,  we  determined  to  ride  back  over  the  still  smoking 
ground,  and  endeavour  to  discover  the  bodies  of  our  guanaco. 
We  accordingly  emerged  from  the  hollow  where  we  had 
sheltered  ourselves,  and  once  more  plunged  into  the  thick  of 
the  driving  smoke  and  heated  sand : holding  our  mantles 
over  our  eyes,  we  penetrated  the  murky  atmosphere  till 
Jackechan  discovered  two  of  his  animals  ; but  as  they  were 
both  roasted,  or  rather  burned,  and  ourselves  and  horses  were 
nearly  suffocated,  we  beat  a hasty  retreat.  I was  very  thank- 
ful when  at  length,  ascending  a steep  declivity,  we  emerged 
at  the  top  into  the  pure  air.  ‘ Ah  ! ’ said  Jackechan,  looking 
down  on  the  plains  still  full  of  smoke,  ‘ it  has  been  a rough 
time,  but  “we  are  men,  not  women,”  though  we  were  fools 
to  remain  to  the  last.’  I fully  agreed  with  him  in  this,  as 
my  eyes  still  smarted  very  painfully.  How  he  found  his  way 
through  the  smoke  was  perfectly  inexplicable  to  me  : if  I had 
been  alone,  my  travels  would  have  been  concluded  then  and 
there.  Towards  the  evening  of  this  eventful  day  the  wind 
abated  in  violence,  and  during  the  night  snow  fell,  and  all 
the  ensuing  day  there  were  passing  squalls  of  white  water  or 
snow,  and  furious  blasts  of  wind.  About  this  time  I came  to 
the  conclusion  that  summer  was  unknown  in  these  regions, 
and  that  the  Patagonian  year  consisted  of  two  seasons — a 
hard  -winter  and  a bad  spring.  The  Indians,  however,  de- 
clared that  the  climate  had  grown  colder  during  the  last 
two  years.  On  the  28th  of  November  we  broke  up  camp  and 
marched  to  a valley  situated  under  one  spur  of  the  wooded 
hills,  previously  mentioned  as  bounding  the  northern  side  of 
the  valley — killing  some  young  guanaco  by  the  way.  I was 
astonished  on  galloping  up  to  two,  to  find  they  did  not  run 
away  at  first,  although  their  mothers  had  already  gone,  and 
taken  up  a position  on  a rocky  eminence  some  distance  off. 
Whilst  watching  them,  however,  and  meditating  on  the 
necessity  and  cruelty  of  killing  them,  the  two  little  things 


HEN N OK AIK  TO  T ECKEL.  145 

started  off;  so,  as  my  mantle  was  fast  losing  its  beautiful 
appearance,  I put  compunction  on  one  side,  and  shortly 
killed  them  with  a blow  on  the  head.  On  arriving  at  the  fire 
where  some  of  the  Indians  were  collected  eating  ostriches, 
I was  proceeding  to  take  the  skins  off,  when  Tankelow,  who 
presided,  stopped  me,  saying  that  we  would  skin  them  in  the 
toldos,  where  the  blood  would  be  a treat  to  the  women  and 
children.  We  accordingly  reserved  the  luxury,  and  after  a 
feed  crossed  a small  stream  and  piece  of  marsh,  beyond 
which  lay  the  encampment,  where  the  women  soon  verified 
Tankelow’s  words.  Though  the  flesh  of  the  young  guanaco 
is  rather  tasteless  and  soft,  the  hlood  has  a sweeter  taste  than 
that  of  the  adult.  The  rennet,  or  milk,  which  is  found 
curdled  into  a sort  of  cheese  in  the  intestines,  is  also  eaten 
with  gusto.  The  most  laborious  part  of  young  guanaco 
hunting  consists  in  taking  off  the  skin,  which,  after  the 
necessary  incisions  have  been  made  with  a knife,  has  to  be 
taken  off  by  hand,  the  thumb  being  used  to  separate  the  hide 
from  the  body.  The  calves,  when  three  days  old,  run  at 
about  the  speed  of  a horse’s  hand-gallop,  but  sometimes  give 
longer  chases.  The  Indian  plan  is  to  kill  them  with  a blow 
on  the  head  from  a ball,  and  then  pass  on  to  another,  and  so 
on,  afterwards  returning  to  collect  them  in  a heap  and  skin 
them.  After  the  hide  is  taken  off  it  is  necessary  to  expose  it 
to  the  air  for  a few  minutes  before  folding  it  up,  otherwise  it 
is  liable  to  get  heated,  and  will  tear  easily  in  the  subsequent 
processes.  We  hunted  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Jeroshaik, 
or  ‘ Bad  Hill,’  several  times,  with  varying  success,  sometimes 
proceeding  up  into  the  wooded  hills,  where  the  timber  in 
some  places  grew  in  clumps,  as  if  planted  by  the  hand  of 
man  ; in  others  filled  up  the  rocky  dells,  until  the  main 
forests  were  reached,  which  appeared  to  extend  far  into  the 
Cordillera.  Most  of  the  trees  were  of  a species  of  beech,  on 
which  were  many  small  edible  fungi,  some  of  which  we 
gathered  for  use  ; and  traces  of  red  deer  were  frequently  seen, 
and  a few  were  chased  by  the  Indians,  but  owing  to  the 

10 


146 


AT  ROME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


thickness  of  the  wood  they  escaped.  Some  of  the  Indians 
took  the  opportunity  to  cut  fresh  poles  for  the  toldos.  The 
sight  of  woods  and  trees  was  so  refreshing  that  I spent 
several  days  consecutively  among  them,  very  often  alone, 
or  with  one  companion.  Nobody,  except  a sailor  after 
months  on  the  sea,  can  imagine  the  pleasure  of  wandering 
under  trees  to  one  who  had  passed  so  long  a time  in  the 
barren  and  monotonous  plains.  The  weather,  however,  still 
continued  wet  and  inclement.  On  the  5th  of  December, 
some  of  us  wandering  on  the  heights  above,  made  out  smoke 
to  the  N.E.,  and  Campan  went  off  at  speed  on  horseback  to 
reconnoitre.  He  returned  towards  nightfall  very  drunk,  and 
riding  straight  to  our  toldo,  proclaimed  that  El  Sourdo, 
the  Indian  left  behind  in  Santa  Cruz,  had  arrived  at  a place 
close  to  us,  bringing  grog  in  two  small  barrels,  and  letters  for 
me  : when  he  had  delivered  his  news,  he,  with  some  difficulty, 
dismounted  without  coming  on  his  head  ; then  produced  a 
bottle  half  full  of  rum  from  under  his  mantle,  which  he 
dispensed  to  the  attendant  company. 

Our  toldo  was  soon  crowded,  and  it  was  proposed  that  on 
the  following  day  we  should  march  and  meet  the  visitor,  all 
being  eager  for  a drink.  Accordingly,  on  the  morrow  we 
started,  in  a storm  of  sleet  and  rain,  and  prepared  to  hunt 
en  route.  While  hunting,  just  after  Jackechan  and  myself 
had  killed  an  ostrich,  the  former  perceived  a single  toldo, 
which  he  knew  must  be  El  Sourdo’s,  so  we  galloped 
towards  it,  accompanied  by  two  other  Indians,  and  were 
received  with  open  arms  by  El  Soui’do  and  his  two  wives, 
Jackechan  being  a very  old  friend.  We  were  made  to  sit 
down,  and  the  olla,  or  boiling-pot,  was  brought  out  by  the 
two  wives,  who  acted  as  Hebes  by  producing  the  rum,  with 
which  our  host  filled  the  pot,  and  dispensed  the  liquor  in 
a pannikin.  One  of  the  wives  then  produced  my  letters, 
which  proved  to  be  from  Mr.  Clarke  and  Don  Luiz  P.  B.,  the 
schooner  having  arrived  on  October  5,  all  safe.  El  Sourdo 
then  gave  me  all  the  news  verbatim — how  a fight  had  taken 


I 


HENN OKA  IK  TO  T ECKEL. 


147 


place  at  the  settlement  between  Gonzalez  and  Antonio,  in 
which  the  latter  had  been  killed  or  mortally  wounded,  and 
the  former  had  escaped  to  the  Pampas,  but  had  subsequently 
been  captured  and  taken  as  a prisoner  in  the  schooner 
to  Buenos  Ayres  ; and  other  news  of  trivial  importance. 
Meanwhile  the  grog  was  fast  disappearing,  and  the  pot  had 
to  be  replenished.  This  in  turn  was  about  half-emptied  by 
the  time  the  other  Indians  and  women  arrived,  and  Jacke- 
chan,  very  inebriated,  was  vowing  eternal  friendship  to  me, 
while  Tchang  was  howling  in  my  other  ear  a lovely  Tehuelche 
ditty.  As  I had  drunk  in  moderation,  I thought  it  about 
time  to  clear,  so,  on  the  plea  of  looking  after  my  horse, 
retired  and  re-read  my  letters,  which  any  one  may  imagine, 
although  not  coming  from  my  relations,  were  of  great 
interest.  After  my  departure  no  more  liquor  was  given 
away,  El  Sourdo  selling  two  bottles  for  a young  horse  or  a 
silver-sheathed  knife,  so  that  he  soon  found  himself  a rich 
man.  By  midnight  all  the  liquor  was  exhausted  and  many 
drunk,  but  no  disturbances  occurred  worthy  of  mention,  all 
arms  having  previously  been  stowed  away  safely.  I was 
roused  from  my  first  sleep  by  a lady  from  a neighbouring 
toldo,  who  wished  to  embrace  me,  and,  with  feminine  curio- 
sity wanted  to  know  the  contents  of  my  letters.  She  was, 
I am  sorry  to  say,  in  an  advanced  stage  of  intoxication,  so 
after  giving  her  a smoke,  Orkeke,  who  had  roused  up  and 
was  dying  of  laughter,  politely  showed  her  the  door.  Most 
of  the  party  went  out  hunting  in  the  morning,  the  ride  no 
doubt  proving  beneficial  to  those  suffering  from  headache, 
though  little  game  was  killed  ; but  the  Sourdo,  whom  I had 
joined  in  a morning  bowl  of  coffee,  remained  at  home,  as  his 
horses  were  very  much  used  up,  one  of  his  boys  going  on  a 
friend’s  mount  to  procure  meat.  For  four  days  after  this 
drinking  bout  we  did  nothing  hut  slaughter  and  eat  mares, 
somebody’s  child  having  been  slightly  hurt  in  some  manner. 
Although  I have  read  in  various  books  that  the  Indians  have 
a religious  festival  at  which  mares  are  slaughtered  as  a 


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AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


sacrifice  to  the  Deity  at  a certain  time  of  the  year,  I never 
saw  anything  of  if.  Whenever  this  sort  of  sacrificial  feast 
took  place,  there  was  always  a special  occasion  for  it — either 
a death,  or  a child  hurt,  or  some  escape  from  danger, 
when  the  animals  are  killed  as  a thankoffering.  Rather 
tired  of  remaining  so  long  in  one  place,  on  the  12th  we 
marched  due  north  across  the  plain,  which  was  called  ‘ Gisk,’ 
and  encamped  under  a hill  covered  with  trees,  and  the  sides 
furrowed  with  small  gullies,  densely  filled  with  vegetation 
and  shrubs  of  two  or  three  species.  Here  there  were  plants 
of  the  description  of  potatoes  before  mentioned,  but  growing 
very  deep  in  such  unfavourable  ground  that  few  were  ex- 
tracted. On  the  hill  sides  a plant  bearing  a yellow  flower 
grew  in  abundance,  the  leaf  of  which,  the  Chilians  informed 
me,  was  an  excellent  remedy  for  wounds  and  bruises,  and 
much  used  in  Chili.  Four  days’  hunting  took  place  here,  at 
the  end  of  which  Orkeke,  who  had  heard  some  story  that  the 
Pampas  had  been  stealing  a march  by  hunting  at  night,  and 
was  rather  disgusted  at  his  continual  ill-success,  proposed 
that  we  should  separate,  and,  in  company  with  the  toldos  of 
Tchang,  go  westward  to  a plain  below  the  higher  mountains, 
which  he  stated  to  be  abounding  in  guanaco.  He  also  pro- 
posed a trip  into  the  Cordillera  in  search  of  wild  cattle.  This 
plan  was  eagerly  approved,  as  I anticipated  persuading  him, 
if  possible,  to  penetrate  to  the  Chilian  shores  of  the  Pacific. 
We  accordingly  set  out  on  our  travels,  but  had  not  gone  far 
before  a frightful  storm  of  wind,  sleet,  and  rain  set  in,  which 
wetted  us  all  completely.  We  huddled  for  shelter  under  a 
bush  for  some  time,  but  as  it  continued  there  was  nothing 
for  it  but  to  push  on,  and  about  three  p.m.  the  weather  cleared 
up  ; we  then  entered  a glen  with  a wooded  stream  running 
down  it,  expanding  higher  up  into  an  open  plain.  A short 
distance  up  the  valley  the  intended  camping-ground  lay,  so 
a small  circle  was  made,  in  which  some  ostriches  and  gua- 
naco were  killed.  We  then  adjourned  across  the  river  under 
the  trees,  and  soon  had  a roaring  fire  blazing,  by  the  side  of 


HENNOKAIK  TO  TECKEL. 


149 


which  we  dried  ourselves  and  cooked  our  dinner.  A more 
romantic-looking  spot  than  this  I was  never  in.  On  the 
other  side  of  the  stream  was  a mass  of  grey  rocks,  half  hid 
by  shrubs,  from  amongst  which  here  and  there  a dead  tree 
stood  up.  On  one  side  the  grass  was  beautifully  green,  and 
the  trees  were  growing  in  scattered  round  clumps  a few 
yards  apart ; doves  were  cooing  in  their  branches,  and  young 
ostriches  were  running  about.  These,  I am  sorry  to  say, 
were  caught  by  the  horsemen,  who  jumped  down  and  secured 
them  : hunger  had  no  scruples,  and  two  furnished  a good 
meal  for  each  wet  and  starving  traveller.  Despite  our 
ducking,  we  were  soon  all  in  high  spirits,  and  some  of  us, 
before  going  back  to  the  toldos,  proceeded  to  search  for  wild 
potatoes,  a few  of  which  we  brought  back.  The  following 
morning  the  sun  rose  bright,  with  a clear  sky,  so  we  con- 
tinued our  march  in  a westerly  direction,  arriving  about 
midday  at  a gorge  amongst  the  wooded  hills,  where  I hoped 
that  we  were  going  to  encamp  ; the  women,  however,  di- 
verged to  the  northward,  and  proceeded  up  a ravine  or 
canon  in  the  barranca  of  the  high  pampa,  pitched  the  toldos 
in  a gloomy  prison-like  spot.  Melancholy  as  it  seemed  to 
me,  it  afforded  abundant  pasture  for  the  horses,  which 
between  the  hills  was  scarce,  so  that  they  were  inclined  to 
wander  into  the  woods  and  be  hard  to  find  when  wanted, 
which  undoubtedly  was  the  reason  of  our  taking  the  canon  in 
preference  to  the  wooded  valley.  This  canon,  a little  beyond 
our  camp,  divided  into  two,  in  one  of  which  was  a laguna 
frequented  by  avocets.  The  stream,  which  in  spring  poured 
down  the  glen,  presented  only  an  occasional  pool  and  a dry 
bed,  in  which  were  numbers  of  rounded  white  stones  of 
chalky  substance,  supplying  capital  materials  for  bolas,  easily 
reduced  to  the  suitable  form  : it  also  occurred  to  me  that  the 
chips  pounded  to  powder  might  have  the  curative  effects  of 
chalk  mixture,  as  diarrhcea  had  affected  some  of  the  party, 
and  the  result  of  the  medicinal  experiment  was  satisfactory, 
though  it  was  impossible  to  prevail  on  the  Indians  to  try  the 


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AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


remedy.  Whilst  the  women  were  pitching  toldos,  the  men, 
eight  in  number,  started  to  hunt  again.  Riding  to  the  west, 
where  the  plain  was  still  open,  we  came  upon  another  of  the 
huge  basins  previously  described,  on  the  western  side  of 
which,  beyond  a lagoon  stocked  with  waterfowl,  flowed  a 
broad  winding  stream  fringed  with  trees.  At  a short  dis- 
tance from  the  other  side  of  the  stream  open  glades  extended 
for  the  space  of  perhaps  a mile  to  the  verge  of  the  inter- 
minable forests,  rising  high  up  on  the  lofty  sides  of  moun- 
tains, some  of  whose  summits  were  still  partially  snow-clad. 
To  the  south  were  two  or  three  round  detached  hummocks, 
hardly  deserving  the  name  of  hills,  crowned  with  trees.  In 
the  foreground  were  immense  herds  of  guanaco,  and  on  the 
northern  side  frowned  a high  range  of  arid-looking  hills, 
forming  a great  contrast  to  the  deliciously-refreshing  green 
aspect  of  the  other  points  of  view.  Whilst  waiting  concealed 
behind  a bush  for  the  coming  herd,  which  had  been  cun- 
ningly encircled  by  Tchang  and  another  Indian,  and  were  to 
be  driven  in  our  direction,  we  gazed  long  at  the  beautiful 
view  before  us,  and  Orkeke  pointed  out  a mountain  some  dis- 
tance to  the  north,  underneath  which,  he  said,  was  the 
entrance  to  the  scene  of  our  future  campaign  against  the 
wild  cattle.  Towards  evening  we  returned  to  the  toldos, 
pretty  well  loaded  with  skins.  On  another  occasion,  when 
hunting,  we  made  a circle,  finishing  off  in  the  wooded  dis- 
trict near  the  banks  of  the  river.  On  our  return  we  hunted 
over  a park-like  country,  with  alternate  open  glades  and 
woods.  Here  we  killed  a doe  red  deer  and  a large  descrip- 
tion of  fox,  apparently  identical  with  the  Falkland  Island 
species  (Lupus  antarcticus).  In  the  vicinity  of  the  woods,  the 
velvety  sward  was  carpeted  with  the  wild  strawberry  plants, 
which,  however,  were  only  in  bloom.  On  this  occasion  our 
enjoyment  was  marred  by  one  of  the  party  getting  a severe 
fall,  which  laid  him  up  for  a day  or  two.  Before  we  reached 
the  toldos  rain  set  in  heavily,  which  during  the  night  turned 
to  snow,  and  the  morning  sun  shone  on  a white  landscape. 


HENNOKAIK  TO  T ECKEL. 


151 


During  our  stay  the  women  went  to  the  woods  to  cut  fresh 
poles  for  the  toldos,  and  the  men  brought  back  from  the 
wooded  country  a description  of  fungus,  which,  when  dried, 
forms  an  excellent  tinder,  of  considerable  value  amongst  the 
Indians,  as  there  are  only  a few  spots  where  it  is  to  be 
obtained.  After  some  days  spent  in  this  pleasant  neighbour- 
hood, as  the  supply  of  guanaco  was  failing,  we  marched  over 
the  barren  range  of  hills,  and  passing  a lagoon  of  consider- 
able extent  below  the  hills,  encamped  on  the  other  side  of 
them,  by  the  side  of  a smaller  one,  in  a place  called  ‘ Gogo- 
menykaik.’ 

During  the  hunt  I had  singled  out  a guanaco,  and  was  in 
full  chase  across  the  upper  pampa,  which  was  covered  with 
stunted  bushes  and  tufts  of  grass,  when  the  quarry  suddenly 
disappeared,  as  if  the  earth  had  swallowed  him.  The  next 
moment  my  horse  halted  in  mid-gallop,  with  its  fore  feet 
on  the  edge  of  a precipitous  descent  which  shelved  away 
without  any  warning.  Below  was  a long  beautiful  glen,  with 
a pool  of  water  glistening  among  the  trees  which  filled  it, 
but  did  not  rear  their  topmost  boughs  above  the  level  of  the 
pampa.  Here  the  guanaco  had  taken  refuge,  and  as  the 
descent  was  impracticable  for  a horse,  I could  only  gaze 
longingly  down  into  the  fairy-like  scene,  and  turn  away  to 
join  the  circle,  remembering  that  it  was  only  too  easy  to  lose 
oneself  by  delay.  Of  this  an  instance  occurred  the  same  day, 
for  one  of  the  Chilians  did  not  appear  at  the  fireside  when  the 
hunting  was  completed.  At  first  no  heed  was  bestowed  on 
him,  as  it  was  natural  to  suppose  that  he  had  chased  a herd 
of  guanaco  to  some  distance,  and  was  detained  taking  off  the 
skins  ; hut  when  at  sunset  he  was  still  missing,  some  dry  grass 
was  fired,  for  the  purpose  of  directing  him  to  our  camp. 
The  following  morning  he  had  not  appeared  when  we  started 
to  hunt,  myself  going  as  pointsman  with  Orkeke.  We  gal- 
loped for  some  distance  over  the  plain,  and  halted  in  a 
hollow,  where  we  came  on  six  young  skunks  outside  their 
parental  burrow,  into  which  they  quickly  vanished  on  our 


152 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


dismounting  ; but  as  their  burrows  do  not  penetrate  far, 
Orkeke  soon  grubbed  out  a couple.  As  they  were  too  small 
to  kill  for  the  value  of  their  skins,  and  too  much  trouble  to 
carry  home  as  pets  for  the  children,  we  set  them  free  again, 
and  I proceeded,  leaving  Orkeke  to  pursue  his  way  slowly. 
A slight  rise  brought  me  in  front  of  a rocky  hill,  on  the  other 
side  of  which  was  a river  with  wooded  hanks,  across  the 
valley  of  which  river  lay  my  route.  I at  first  considered  it 
to  be  the  same  as  that  seen  in  the  previous  encampment, 
hut  on  reflection  it  was  plainly  another,  this  flowing  north- 
east, whilst  the  other  took  a south-west  course.  Our  hunt 
progressed  very  fairly.  On  closing  the  circle,  one  of  the 
Chilians,  who  was  running  a guanaco  with  me,  and  not  ex- 
pert in  the  use  of  the  bolas,  entangled  his  horse  and  himself 
instead  of  the  chase,  which  lost  him  his  spoils,  and  caused 
much  merriment  amongst  the  remainder  of  the  party ; 
although  I may  as  well  state  here  that  when  a horse  gets  a 
ball  round  his  legs  or  under  his  tail,  it  is  not  much  of  ajoking 
matter  for  the  rider.  On  our  way  back  to  camp,  halting  by  a 
spring,  we  found  large  quantities  of  wild  celery  ; nettles  were 
also  common — the  real  old  English  white-flowering  one  being 
prevalent.  Although  my  bare  legs  got  considerably  stung,  I 
forgot  to  swear  in  Tehuelche,  and  forgave  the  plant  for  old 
acquaintance  sake.  At  the  toldos  we  found  the  Chilian,  who 
had  arrived  recently,  having  run  a herd  some  distance  and 
lost  his  way,  but  had  been  safely  directed  by  our  signal 
fires.  In  the  afternoon  some  of  the  party  were  occupied  in 
breaking  their  horses,  while  others  were  sitting  at  home 
lazily  watching  the  performance.  Conde’s  step-father,  gene- 
rally known  as  ‘ Paliki,’  had  a three-year-old  iron-grey,  with 
a white  star,  and  a very  fine  animal,  tied  up  ready  to  be 
mounted  for  the  first  time.  Paliki  entered  our  toldo  to 
borrow  my  cincta,  or  girth,  and  chaffed  me,  asking  if  I 
would  venture  to  ‘ domar  ’ him.  Orkeke  seconded  the  pro- 
posal, and  accordingly,  having  stripped  off  mantle  and  boots, 
I proceeded  to  take  the  lazo  and  reins  and  mount.  The  in- 


HENNOKA  IK  TO  TECKEL. 


153 


stant  he  felt  the  unwonted  incumbrance  he  buck-jumped  for 
several  yards,  finally  jumping  into  the  middle  of  the  brook 
and  nearly  losing  his  footing.  I spurred  him  out,  and  once 
on  the  bank  he  commenced  to  whirl  round  and  round  like  a 
teetotum.  At  last  I got  his  head  straight,  and  after  a few 
more  buck-jumps  he  went  off  at  a racing  speed,  urged  by  whip 
and  spur.  After  a stretching  gallop  of  three  miles,  I rode 
him  quietly  back,  now  and  again  turning  him  to  accustom 
him  to  the  bridle-thong,  but  not  venturing  to  feel  his  mouth, 
and  then  brought  him  up  to  the  toldo  amidst  the  shouts  of 
the  spectators.  Orkeke  expressed  great  surprise,  and  wanted 
to  know  where  I had  learned  to  ‘ domar  ’ ; and  the  gratified 
owner  insisted  on  presenting  me  with  a piece  of  tobacco. 
This  was  most  welcome,  as  my  store  was  almost  exhausted, 
though  it  had  been  replenished  occasionally  by  the  posses- 
sors of  guns  and  revolvers  in  return  for  my  services  in 
putting  the  locks  to  rights ; and  the  fear  of  being  left 
tobaccoless — the  agony  of  which  all  smokers  will  appreciate 
— was  becoming  unpleasantly  strong.  The  following  day 
we  bade  adieu  to  the  lagoon,  which,  as  usual,  was  covered 
with  swans  and  other  wild-fowl,  which  we  never  molested, 
husbanding  our  powder  in  the  event  of  future  disturbances 
with  other  Indians.  We  marched  a few  miles,  and  en- 
camped near  the  river — indeed,  on  its  very  banks,  under  the 
shadows  of  the  trees.  Here  we  passed  our  time  away 
hunting,  bathing  in  the  stream,  smoking,  and  lying  in  the 
shade  for  three  days.  One  of  my  horses  being  lame,  I could 
not  hunt  every  day,  so  frequently  passed  hours  under  the 
trees  by  the  river,  scrubbing  my  one  remaining  shirt  for 
future  use,  and  working  hide,  &c.  As  writing  in  the  toldo 
was  made  almost  impossible  by  the  curiosity  of  the  children, 
crowding  round  me  and  asking  questions,  I generally  used 
to  take  my  note-book  to  my  retreat ; here,  however,  I was 
often  interrupted  by  the  girls,  who  came  on  the  pretence  of 
bathing,  and  evinced  great  playful  curiosity  as  to  the  con- 
tents of  my  book — for  here,  too,  I used  to  peruse  and  re- 


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AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


peruse  my  library,  namely,  half  of  the  delightful  ‘ Elsie 
Venner,’  which  Crime  had  picked  up  on  board  some  ship  to 
serve  as  wadding  for  his  guns,  and  sold  to  me  for  a little 
powder.  To  enable  the  reader  to  follow  our  somewhat 
devious  course  and  the  intricacies  of  these  hills  and  frequent 
rivers,  the  sketch  map  at  page  164  will  be  found  useful ; it 
does  not  pretend  to  be  exact,  but  gives  a very  fair  idea  of 
the  line  of  country  traversed,  and  of  our  migrations  between 
Henno  and  Teckel. 

On  the  23rd,  Indians  having  been  seen  to  the  north  and 
guanaco  hunting  proving  a failure,  Orkeke,  to  my  great 
delight,  proposed  a visit  to  the  wild-cattle  country.  The 
camp  was  accordingly  struck,  and  following  more  or  less  the 
valley  of  the  river,  which  flowed  after  one  turn  nearly  due 
east,  we  shortly  came  out  into  an  open  plain  running  up 
between  the  mountains,  at  the  head  of  which  we  encamped 
by  some  tall  beeches  on  the  banks  of  the  stream.  The  whole 
of  the  latter  part  of  the  plain  traversed  was  literally  carpeted 
with  strawberry  plants  all  in  blossom,  the  soil  being  of  a 
dark  peaty  nature.  Young  ostriches  were  now  numerous, 
and  every  hunt  some  were  captured,  and  formed  a welcome 
addition  to  our  dinner.  The  children  had  several  alive  as 
pets,  which  they  used  to  let  loose  and  then  catch  with 
miniature  bolas,  generally  ending  in  killing  them.  Our  pro- 
gramme was  to  leave  all  the  women,  toldos,  and  other 
encumbrances  in  this  spot,  named  ‘ Weekel,’  or  Chaykash — 
a regular  station,  and  which  Hinchel’s  party  had  occupied  a 
few  weeks  previously — and  proceed  ourselves  into  the  in- 
terior in  search  of  cattle.  The  following  morning  at  daylight 
horses  were  caught  and  saddled,  and,  after  receiving  the 
good  wishes  of  the  women,  who  adjured  us  to  bring  back 
plenty  of  fat  beef,  we  started  off  just  as  the  sun  was  rising 
behind  the  hills  to  the  eastward.  The  air  was  most  in- 
vigorating, and  we  trotted  along  for  some  distance  up  a 
slightly  irregular  and  sandy  slope,  halting  after  an  hour  or 
two  by  the  side  of  a deliciously  clear  brook,  flowing  east, 


HENNOKAIK  TO  T ECKEL. 


155 


where  we  smoked.  We  had  previously  passed  guanaco  and 
ostrich,  but  no  notice  was  taken  of  them,  the  Indians  having 
larger  game  in  view.  After  passing  this  brook,  the  head- 
water of  the  river  near  which  we  had  left  the  toldos,  we 
skirted  a large  basin-like  plain  of  beautiful  green  pasture, 
and  after  galloping  for  some  time  entered  the  forest,  travelling 
along  a path  which  only  permitted  us  to  proceed  in  Indian- 
file.  The  trees  were  in  many  places  dead,  not  blackened  by 
fire,  but  standing  up  like  ghostly  bleached  and  bare  skeletons. 
It  is  a remarkable  fact  that  all  the  forests  on  the  eastern 
side  are  skirted  by  a belt  of  dead  trees.  At  length,  however, 
just  as  we  came  in  sight  of  a curiously  pointed  rock  which 
in  the  distance  resembled  the  spire  of  a church,  we  entered 
the  forest  of  live  trees  ; the  undergrowth  was  composed  of 
currant,  bay,  and  other  bushes,  whilst  here  and  there  were 
beds  of  yellow  violets,  and  the  inevitable  strawberry  plants 
everywhere.  After  crossing  a stream,  which,  flowing  from 
the  north,  afterwards  took  a westerly  course,  thus  proving 
that  we  had  passed  the  watershed,  we  proceeded,  under  cover 
of  a huge  rock,  to  reconnoitre  the  hunting  ground.  The 
scenery  was  beautiful : a valley,  about  a mile  wide,  stretched 
directly  under  us  ; on  the  southern  verge  a silver  line  marked 
the  easterly  river,  and  another  on  the  noi'thern  the  one 
debouching  in  the  Pacific ; whilst  above,  on  both  sides,  rose 
high  mountains  covered  with  vegetation  and  almost  im- 
penetrable forests.  On  the  western  side  of  the  valley  a 
solitary  bull  was  leisurely  taking  his  breakfast,  and  above 
our  look-out  rock  a huge  condor  lazily  flapped  his  wings. 
These  were  the  only  specimens  of  animal  life  in  view. 
Pursuing  our  way  in  perfect  silence,  as  from  the  first  entrance 
into  the  forests  speaking  had  been  prohibited,  we  followed 
the  leader  along  the  narrow  cattle  path,  passing  here  and 
there  the  remains  of  a dead  bull  or  cow  that  had  met  their 
fate  by  the  Indian’s  lazo,  and  at  length  descended  to  the 
plain.  It  was  about  midday,  and  the  day  was  warm,  so  we 
halted,  changed  horses,  looked  to  our  girths,  got  lazos  ready 


156 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


for  use,  and  then  started  on.  As  we  were  proceeding  we 
observed  two  or  three  animals  amongst  the  woods  on  the 
opposite  side,  but  knowing  that  it  would  be  useless  to  follow, 
pursued  our  course  up  the  valley.  Having  crossed  the 
western  stream,  we  at  once  entered  a thicket  where  the  path 
was  scarcely  distinguishable  from  the  cover,  but  our  leader 
never  faltered,  and  led  the  way  through  open  glades  alter- 
nating with  thick  woods,  on  eveiy  side  of  which  were  cattle 
marks,  many  being  holes  stamped  out  by  the  bulls,  or  wallow- 
ing places.  The  glades  soon  terminated  in  forests,  which 
seemed  to  stretch  unbroken  on  either  side.  We  had  ex- 
pected before  reaching  this  point  to  have  found  cattle  in 
considerable  numbers,  hut  the  warmth  of  the  day  had  pro- 
bably driven  them  into  the  thickets  to  seek  shelter.  We 
now  commenced  to  ascend  over  a dangerous  path,  encumbered 
here  and  there  with  loose  boulders  and  entangled  in  dense 
thickets,  whilst  we  could  hear  and  catch  occasional  glimpses 
of  the  river  foaming  down  a ravine  on  our  left,  and  presently 
arrived  at  the  top  of  a ridge  where  the  forests  became  more 
uniformly  dense,  and  we  could  with  great  difficulty  pursue 
our  way.  It  was  a mystery  to  me  how  Orkeke,  who  acted  as 
guide,  knew  where  we  were,  as  on  one  occasion  the  slightly- 
marked  paths  diverged  in  different  directions,  and  on  another 
we  literally  found  ourselves  amongst  fallen  trees  in  a forest 
so  dense  that  the  light  of  day  scarcely  penetrated  its  shades. 
Our  leader,  however,  never  hesitated,  but  led  us  onwards  in 
all  confidence.  Whilst  brushing  along,  if  I may  be  allowed 
the  term,  trying  to  keep  the  leader  in  sight,  I heard  some- 
thing tapping  on  a tree,  and  looking  up,  saw  close  above 
me  a most  beautifully  marked  red-crested  woodpecker.  We 
at  length  commenced  to  descend,  and,  after  passing  many 
channels  of  rivulets  issuing  from  springs,  where  a slip  of 
the  horse’s  foot  on  the  wet  and  mossy  stones  would  have 
occasioned  something  worse  than  broken  bones,  as  they  were 
situated  on  the  edge  of  a deep  ravine,  finally  emerged  from 
the  woods  and  found  ourselves  on  a hill  of  some  three  hundred 


HENNOKA  IK  TO  TECKEL. 


157 


feet  in  height,  whence  we  looked  down  on  a broad  plain 
in  the  form  of  a triangle,  bounded  by  the  river  flowing 
through  the  ravine  on  the  north  side,  and  on  the  southern 
by  another  coming  from  the  south,  which  two  streams  united 
in  one  large  river  at  the  western  apex,  at  a distance  of  about 
perhaps  a league.  Above  and  around,  on  all  sides  excepting 
to  the  west  and  the  ravines  through  which  the  rivers  flowed, 
rose  the  unbroken  wall  of  the  lofty  mountains  of  the 
Cordillera,  many  of  their  peaks  snow-clad.  No  sound  was  to 
be  heard  except  the  rushing  of  the  river  in  the  ravine,  and 
no  animal  life  to  be  seen  except  a condor  or  two  floating 
high  above  us  in  the  clear  sky.  The  scene  was  sublime,  and 
I viewed  it  in  silence  for  some  minutes,  till  the  pipe,  being 
handed  to  me,  dispelled  all  nascent  poetic  tendencies.  The 
Indians  remained  silent  and  looked  disgusted,  as  a herd  of 
cattle  had  been  expected  to  be  viewed  on  the  plain  below. 
We  descended  to  the  flats,  and  crossed  the  river,  on  the 
banks  of  which  ‘ Paja  ’ or  Pampa-grass  grew  in  abundance, 
as  well  as  the  bamboo-like  canes  from  which  Araucanian 
Indians  make  then-  lance  shafts,  and  a plant  called  by  the 
Chilians  ‘ Talka,’  the  stalk  of  which,  resembling  rhubarb,  is 
refreshing  and  juicy.  On  the  northern  edges  and  slope  of  the 
ravine  behind  us  towered  graceful  pines  sixty  feet  high,  which, 
though  an  impassable  barrier  of  rock  prevented  close  inspec- 
tion, appeared  to  be  a species  of  Araucaria ; the  bark  was 
imbricated  and  the  stems  rose  bare  of  branches  for  two-thirds 
of  their  height,  like  those  figured  by  M.  Gay.  Many  had  been 
canned  down  by  landslips,  and  lay  tossed  and  entangled  on 
the  sides  of  the  ravine.  The  increase  of  temperature  after 
passing  the  watershed  was  sensibly  great,  amounting  to  from 
seven  to  ten  degrees,  and  the  vegetation  far  more  luxuriant, 
the  plants  presenting  many  new  forms  unknown  at  the 
eastern  side.  After  leaving  the  plain  and  crossing  the 
shallow  stream,  we  left  our  mantles,  and  girthed  up  near  a 
tree  in  a thicket  festooned  with  a beautiful  creeper,  having 
a bell-shaped  flower  of  violet  radiated  with  brown.  The 


158 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


variety  of  flowers  made  an  Eden  of  this  lovely  spot : climbing 
clusters  of  sweet-peas,  vetches,  and  rich  golden  flowers  re- 
sembling gorgeous  marigolds,  and  many  another  blossom, 
filled  the  air  with  perfume  and  delighted  the  eye  with  their 
beauty.  Proceeding  still  westward  we  entered  a valley  with 
alternate  clumps  of  trees  and  green  pastures,  and  after 
riding  about  a mile  I espied  from  a ridge  on  one  side  of  the 
valley  two  hulls  on  the  other  side,  just  clear  of  the  thick 
woods  bordering  the  ascent  of  the  mountains.  The  word 
was  passed  in  whispers  to  the  cacique,  and  a halt  being 
called  under  cover  of  some  bushes,  a plan  of  attack  was 
arranged  in  the  following  manner.  Two  men  were  sent  round 
to  endeavour  to  drive  the  animals  to  a clearing  where  it 
would  be  possible  to  use  the  lazo,  the  remainder  of  the 
party  proceeding  down  towards  the  open  ground  with  lazos, 
ready  to  chase  if  the  bulls  should  come  that  way.  For  a 
few  minutes  we  remained  stationary,  picking  the  strawberries, 
which  in  this  spot  were  ripe,  although  the  plants  previously 
met  with  were  only  in  flower.  At  the  end  of  five  minutes 
spent  in  anxiously  hoping  that  our  plan  would  prove  success- 
ful, a yell  from  the  other  side  put  us  on  the  alert,  and  we 
had  the  gratification  to  see  one  of  the  animals  coming 
straight  towards  our  cover.  Alas!  just  as  we  were  preparing 
to  dash  out,  he  turned  on  the  edge  of  the  plain,  and  after 
charging  furiously  at  his  pursuers  dashed  into  a thicket,  where 
he  stood  at  bay.  We  immediately  closed  round  him,  and 
dismounting,  I advanced  on  foot  to  try  and  bring  him  down 
with  the  revolver ; just  as  I had  got  within  half  a dozen 
paces  of  him,  and  behind  a bush  was  quietly  taking  aim  at 
his  shoulder,  the  Indians,  eager  for  beef,  and  safe  on  their 
horses  at  a considerable  distance  off,  shouted,  ‘ Nearer ! 
nearer ! ’ I accordingly  stepped  from  my  cover,  but  had 
hardly  moved  a pace  forward  when  my  spur  caught  in  a 
root : at  the  same  moment  ‘ El  Toro  ’ charged.  Entangled 
with  the  root,  I could  not  jump  on  one  side  as  he  came  on  ; 
so  when  within  a yard  I fired  a shot  in  his  face,  hoping  to 


WILD  BULL  IN  THE  CORDILLERA,  page  159. 


HENNOKA  IK  TO  TECKEL. 


159 


turn  him,  and  wheeled  my  body  at  the  same  instant  to 
prevent  his  horns  from  catching  me,  as  the  sailors  say, 
‘ broadside  on.’  The  shot  did  not  stop  him,  so  I was 
knocked  down,  and,  galloping  over  me,  he  passed  on  with  my 
handkerchief,  which  fell  from  my  head,  triumphantly  borne 
on  his  horns,  and  stopped  a few  yards  off  under  another 
bush.  Having  picked  myself  up  and  found  my  arms  and 
legs  all  right,  I gave  him  another  shot,  which,  as  my  hand 
was  rather  unsteady,  only  took  effect  in  the  flank.  My  car- 
tridges being  exhausted,  I returned  to  my  horse,  and  found 
that,  besides  being  considerably  shaken,  two  of  my  ribs  had 
been  broken  by  the  encounter. 

The  Indians  closed  round  me,  and  evinced  great  anxiety 
to  know  whether  I was  much  hurt.  One  more  courageous 
than  the  rest,  despite  the  warnings  of  the  cacique,  swore  that 
he  would  try  and  lazo  the  brute,  and  accordingly  approached 
the  infuriated  animal,  who  for  a moment  or  two  showed  no 
signs  of  stirring  : just,  however,  as  the  Indian  was  about  to 
throw  his  lazo,  it  caught  in  a branch,  and  before  he  could 
extricate  it  the  bull  was  on  him.  We  saw  the  horse  give 
two  or  three  vicious  kicks,  as  the  bull  gored  him  : at  length 
he  was  lifted  clean  up,  the  fore  legs  alone  remaining  on  the 
ground,  and  overthrown,  the  rider  alighting  on  his  head  in  a 
bush.  We  closed  up  and  attracted  the  bull  in  another 
direction,  then  went  to  look  for  the  corpse  of  our  comrade, 
who,  however,  to  our  surprise,  issued  safe  from  the  bush  where 
he  had  lain  quiet  and  unhurt,  though  the  horse  was  killed. 
This  little  incident  cast  a gloom  over  our  day’s  pleasure,  and 
lost  us  our  Christmas  dinner,  as  Orkeke  ordered  a retreat  to 
the  spot  where  we  had  left  our  mantles,  although  we  tried  to 
persuade  him  to  attack  the  beast  again,  or,  at  any  rate, 
remain  and  eat  some  of  the  dead  horse,  and  try  our  luck 
next  day,  but  he  was  inflexible.  So  having  regained  our 
spare  horses  we  prepared  to  return  home,  hoping  to  be  able 
to  pass  through  the  forest  before  nightfall.  On  our  way 
across  the  plain  previously  described,  wild  cattle  were  seen 


160 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


and  one  chased  ; but  he,  although  balled  by  Orkeke,  con- 
trived to  slip  the  bolas,  and  escaping  to  cover  stood  to  bay, 
where  he  was  left  master  of  the  field.  This  bull  would 
have  been  taken  had  the  other  Indians  showed  any  degree  of 
alacrity  when  Orkeke  balled  him  ; but  they  were  dispirited 
by  the  previous  failure.  As  evening  was  coming  on  I noticed 
a cormorant  on  the  river  : this  and  the  increase  of  tempera- 
ture led  me  to  believe  that  had  we  penetrated  a few  miles 
farther  west  we  should  have  reached  the  shores  of  the 
Pacific.  Pursuing  our  track  homewards,  after  the  second 
unsuccessful  engagement,  we  managed  to  pass  the  thick 
forest  before  dark,  and  decending  to  the  eastern  valley  saw 
numerous  cows  and  bulls  at  intervals.  A short  time  after 
dark  we  encamped  for  the  night  under  the  shelter  of  some 
trees  near  to  the  head-waters  of  the  western  river,  and  after 
a pipe — by  way  of  supper — wrapping  ourselves  in  our 
mantles  were  soon  fast  asleep.  At  daylight  we  mounted  and 
continued  our  journey,  arriving  about  two  p.m.  pretty  con- 
siderably hungry,  having  eaten  nothing  barring  strawberries 
and  talka,  and  a few  unripe  currants,  since  our  last  evening 
in  the  toldos.  The  women  were  naturally  disappointed  at 
our  ill-luck,  but  uttered  no  complaints  or  reproaches,  and 
hastened  to  pound  some  charqui  for  our  refreshment.  Next 
day,  all  except  myself  and  my  companion  in  the  overthrow, 
who  complained  of  headache,  went  out  hunting  and  returned 
at  night  with  young  guanaco,  and  an  ostrich  or  two.  Some 
of  the  women  had  seen  cattle  near  the  encampment,  and 
Orkeke  informed  me  that  in  former  years  they  used  to  occupy 
the  plains  below  us  in  large  herds,  but  that  the  Indians  had 
driven  them  into  the  interior  by  excessive  hunting : he  also 
stated  that  on  one  occasion  he  spent  some  months  in  this 
spot,  and  caught  and  tamed  a considerable  number.  His 
accurate  knowledge  of  the  country  made  his  statement 
credible,  and  he  also  showed  me  a sort  of  corral  that  had 
been  made  to  enclose  the  wild  animals.  For  my  own 
part,  the  name  of  the  Cordillera  recalls  the  most  hungry 


HENNOKAIK  TO  T ECKEL. 


161 


Christmas  time  of  my  life  : to  parody  the  ‘ Ancient  Mariner,’ 
it  was  * Cattle,  cattle  everywhere,  and  never  a bit  of  beef.’ 
The  following  day  was  spent  in  the  toldos,  and  some  of  the 
Indians  were  desirous,  or  pretended  to  be,  of  going  once 
more  in  search  of  cattle.  Orkeke  would  not  hear  of  it,  so 
on  the  28th  we  marched,  following  the  course  of  the  river 
in  a more  or  less  north-east  direction.  The  weather  was 
beautiful,  and  after  leaving  the  plain  we  rode  along  the 
winding  valley,  now  and  then  starting  a herd  of  guanaco 
or  a solitary  ostrich.  Towards  evening  we  encamped  on 
the  banks  of  the  river,  and  the  women,  after  pitching  the 
toldos,  employed  themselves  in  grubbing  up  potatoes.  This 
day  we  saw  smoke  to  the  north,  caused  by  the  hunting- 
parties  of  the  other  Indians,  and  also  some  at  a greater 
distance,  which  Orkeke  said  was  that  of  the  Araucanian 
Indians,  whom  it  was  expected  that  we  should  shortly  meet 
with. 

On  the  29th  we  were  preparing  to  march,  and  while  the 
women  were  engaged  in  lading  the  horses  some  of  us  were 
picking  the  berries  of  the  ‘ Califata,’  or  barberry  (Berberis 
buccifolia),  or  looking  for  strawberries,  when  a boy,  from  a 
party  of  other  Indians  occupying  the  toldos  near  at  hand, 
rode  up  as  if  despatched  as  a chasqui,  and  stated  that  his 
party  had  communicated  with  the  Araucanians,  amongst 
whom  there  had  been  a row  in  a drinking  bout,  resulting  in 
the  death  of  the  cacique.  This  story  was  fully  believed,  and 
Orkeke  was  rather  perplexed,  as  perhaps  the  new  cacique 
might  not  be  friendly  disposed  towards  the  Tehuelches. 
Without  hunting,  we  rode  quietly  down  to  the  next  encamp- 
ment, where  the  two  strange  toldos  had  already  arrived.  On 
our  near  approach  one  of  the  Indians  came  to  meet  us,  and 
whilst  discussing  a pipe,  after  the  observance  of  the  usual 
ceremonial  prescribed  by  etiquette  (as  we  had  not  seen  the 
man  before),  we  asked  him  about  the  row  amongst  the  Arau- 
canos,  which  turned  out  to  be  all  a hoax  on  the  part  of  the 
promising  youth  who  had  visited  us.  After  a while  we 

11 


1G2 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


adjourned  to  the  toldos,  situated  on  the  bend  of  the  river  near 
a ford  or  pass.  We  had  now  arrived  at  the  camp  agreed  on 
as  a general  rendezvous  at  Henno,  previous  to  the  dispersion 
of  the  Indians.  This  valley  is  called  Teckel,  and  is  a favourite 
resting-place  after  the  young  guanaco  season,  both  for  the 
purpose  of  refreshing  the  horses  and  manufacturing  the 
young  guanaco  skins  into  mantles,  previous  to  proceeding  to 
trade  either  at  the  Rio  Negro  or  with  the  Indians  of  Las 
Manzanas.  The  encampment  is  usually  situated  on  the  ground 
occupied  at  this  time,  viz.,  on  the  west  side  of  the  river, 
about  a mile  from  a large  barren  hill  which  shuts  out  the 
view  of  the  Cordillera.  On  the  east  side  the  valley  extends 
some  three  miles,  and  continues  open  to  the  north  for  per- 
haps six  miles.  It  is  all  fertile,  but  the  best  grazing  ground 
is  at  the  north-east  end.  The  banks  of  the  river,  which  are 
destitute  of  trees,  are  in  many  places  high,  and  formed  under 
the  surface  earth  of  various  stratified  clays — blue,  white,  and 
red.  In  the  bottom  of  the  stream,  which  is  singularly  free 
from  stones,  thick  beds  of  clay  are  of  frequent  occurrence, 
almost  approaching  to  the  tufa  found  in  the  Parana  and  other 
confluents  of  La  Plata,  and  in  some  spots  there  are  beds  of 
black  sand,  probably  auriferous ; fish  are  procurable  in  any 
eddy  or  pool,  and  crayfish  abound  and  form  the  most  tempt- 
ing bait  for  the  others.  Out  of  some  of  the  finest  clay  I was 
enabled  to  manufacture  a pipe  by  the  simple  process  of 
shaping  it  in  the  hand  and  then  baking  it  in  the  ashes,  but 
it  did  not  last  long.  Shortly  after  our  arrival  one  of  the 
small  children,  whilst  playing  with  bolas  formed  out  of  the 
foot  and  sinews  of  an  ostrich,  hurt  himself,  and  in  conse- 
quence a slaughter  of  mares  took  place,  which  opportunely 
enabled  us  to  dispense  with  hunting  and  rest  our  horses, 
which  by  this  time  stood  in  sore  need  of  some  bye  days, 
though,  as  there  was  a good  racecourse,  we  frequently  in- 
dulged in  a race  just  to  keep  the  horses  in  exercise.  After 
we  had  been  about  a week  settled  here,  the  women  being  all 
hard  at  work  making  up  mantles — which  will  be  described  in 


HENN0KA1K  TO  TECKEL. 


163 


the  next  chapter — the  Indians  began  to  arrive,  and  the  hunt- 
ing was  resumed  ; only,  however,  when  absolutely  necessary. 
Some  of  the  new  arrivals  proceeded  to  the  wild  cattle  dis- 
trict, and  managed  to  kill  a bull,  although — as  before — an 
accident  occurred.  As  my  lazo  was  used  to  capture  the  bull, 
I came  in  for  a share  of  the  meat,  which  was  divided  amongst 
the  people  in  our  toldo  ; but  it  proved  very  tough,  and 
rather  nasty.  Perhaps  the  palate,  having  been  so  long 
accustomed  to  guanaco,  ostrich,  or  horse,  could  not  relish 
meat  of  a coarser  description  ; but  the  hide  was  invalu- 
able for  making  maneos  and  other  horse-gear.  On  the  7th 
of  January  a messenger  arrived  from  Casimiro  requesting  me 
to  send  him  some  information,  and  stating  that  he  was  dis- 
tant some  three  marches,  and  wished  to  wait  some  time  to 
refresh  his  horses,  &e.  After  consulting  with  Orkeke  and 
Jackechan,  we  sent  back  a messenger  to  say  that,  ‘ As  game 
was  scarce  now  in  the  vicinity  of  Teckel,  and  all  were  more  or 
less  desirous  of  pushing  forward,  he  had  better  make  haste 
and  join  us,  otherwise  we  should  continue  our  march  towards 
Las  Manzanas.’  This  message  had  the  desired  effect,  as  on 
the  11th  he  made  his  appearance,  with  several  other  toldos, 
a few  only  remaining  in  the  rear  with  Crime,  who  was 
reported  to  be  unwell. 

On  Casimiro’s  arrival,  as  he  now  possessed  a good  toldo,  I 
changed  my  quarters  to  his  residence,  as  agreed  on  at  the 
outset  of  the  journey.  I was  sorry  to  leave  Orkeke,  and  the 
old  man  was  very  much  grieved,  a present  of  a revolver  only 
troubling  him  the  more,  as  he  informed  me  that  he  had 
nothing  to  offer  in  exchange  ; however,  my  assurance  that  I 
did  not  give  him  a present  expecting  an  exchange,  as  is  cus- 
tomary with  Indians,  appeared  to  console  him.  The  usual 
consultation  of  the  chiefs  took  place,  in  which  all  the  pre- 
ceding arrangements  were  agreed  to,  and  we  remained  sta- 
tionary in  Teckel  until  January  20.  As  I had  by  this  time 
become  well  acquainted  with  the  mode  of  life  and  usages  of 
the  Tehuelches,  and  was  looked  upon  as  one  of  them- 


164 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


selves — and  in  fact  had  acquired  a position  and  influence 
among  them — it  may  he  as  well  to  call  a halt,  and  devote 
a chapter  to  a description  of  the  manners  and  customs 
of  the  Tsonecas  or  Tehuelches,  as  Patagonians  call  them- 
selves. 


ROUTE 

between.  8*  Oct  <fr  29*Dec  1810 
Showing  Supposed  Course 

OF  SENGEL  RIVER 


deckel 


■t  c Oog  ornery  kaik ; 


^gWP  6Gisk 
°Hoshel 

r.arae  open  Plains  ' 


* oc4‘ijih° 


Rocks 


cl  Towro 


CHAPTER  V. 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES. 

Patagonian  Giants — A Long  Walk — Strength  and  Good  Humour — 
Heads  of  Hair — Tehuelche  Coquettes — Dress  of  Men  and  Women — 
Ornaments  and  Cosmetics — Toilette  and  Bath — Arms  and  Implements 
— Ancient  Bolas  and  Arrows — Saddles  and  Bridles — Silversmiths — 
Manufacture  of  Mantles — Women’s  Work— Diet  and  Cookery — 
Smoking — Card  Playing — Game  of  Ball — Ceremonies  at  Birth — 
Childhood — Marriage — Funeral  Rites — Religion — Demons  and  Doc- 
tors— Witchcraft  and  Omens — Medical  Skill — Population  and  Poli- 
tics-Etiquette— Tehuelche  Character  — Natural  Affection — Advice 
to  Travellers. 

THE  first  question  asked  about  the  Patagonians  by  curious 
English  friends  has  invariably  had  reference  to  their 
traditionary  stature.  Are  they  giants  or  not  ? Whether  the 
ancestors  of  the  Tehuelches — to  whom  alone,  by  the  way, 
the  name  Patagonians  properly  applies — were  taller  than 
the  present  race  is  uncertain ; though  tales  of  gigantic 
skeletons  found  in  Tehuelche  graves  are  current  in  Punta 
Arenas  and  Santa  Cruz.  The  average  height  of  the  Tehuelche 
male  members  of  the  party  with  which  I travelled  was 
rather  over  than  under  five  feet  ten  inches.*  Of  course  no 
other  means  of  measurement  besides  comparing  my  own 
height  were  available  ; but  this  result,  noted  at  the  time,  coin- 
cides with  that  independently  arrived  at  by  Mr.  Cunningham. 
Two  others,  who  were  measured  carefully  by  Mr.  Clarke, 
stood  six  feet  four  inches  each.  After  joining  the  Northern 


Vide  Appendix  B. 


166 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


Tekuelches,  although  the  Southerners  proved  generally  to  be 
the  tallest,  I found  no  reason  to  alter  this  average,  as  any 
smaller  men  that  were  met  with  in  their  company  were  not 
pure  Tehuelches,  but  half-bred  Pampas.  The  extraordinary 
muscular  development  of  the  arms  and  chest  is  in  all  par- 
ticularly striking,  and  as  a rule  they  are  well-proportioned 
throughout.  This  fact  calls  for  especial  mention,  as  others 
have  stated  that  the  development  and  strength  of  the  legs  is 
inferior  to  that  of  the  arms.  Even  Mr.  Cunningham  alleges 
this  to  he  the  case,  but  I cannot  at  all  agree  with  him. 
Besides  the  frequent  opportunities  afforded  me  of  scrutinising 
the  young  men  engaged  in  the  game  of  ball,  in  which  great 
strength  and  activity  are  displayed,  or  when  enjoying  the 
almost  daily  bath  and  swimming  or  diving,  I judged  of  the 
muscular  size  of  their  legs  by  trying  on  their  boots,  which, 
in  nearly  all  cases,  were  far  too  large  for  me,  although  the 
feet,  on  the  other  hand,  were  frequently  smaller  than  mine. 
The  height  of  their  insteps  is  also  worthy  of  remark,  one 
example  of  which  may  suffice.  Having  negotiated  an  ex- 
change of  an  excellent  pair  of  high  hoots,  manufactured  by 
Messrs.  Thomas,  for  some  necessary  article,  with  a Tehuelche, 
the  bargain  fell  through  because  he  was  unable  to  get  his 
foot  into  the  boot,  the  high  arched  instep  proving  an  in- 
superable obstacle  to  further  progress. 

An  instance  of  the  walking  powers  of  the  Tehuelches 
came  under  my  particular  notice.  On  my  first  arrival  at 
Santa  Cruz,  it  will  be  remembered  that  the  schooner  was 
lying  in  the  mouth  of  the  river  waiting  for  a fair  wind. 
Two  Tehuelches,  named  Tchang  and  Getchkook,  had  em- 
barked in  order  to  proceed  to  the  Rio  Negro,  but  their 
patience  becoming  exhausted  by  the  delay,  they  asked  to  be 
put  ashore,  and  walked  back  to  the  settlement — a distance 
of  over  forty  miles — in  about  twelve  hours,  without  food.  I 
saw  them  on  then-  arrival,  and  they  did  not  appear  in  any  way 
distressed,  merely  remarking  that  it  had  been  ‘ a long  walk.’ 

Their  powers  of  abstaining  from  food  are  also  very  re- 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OP  THE  TEHUELCHES.  167 


markable.  When  the  disturbances  and  fighting  were  going 
on  they  rarely  ate  anything  : also  when  travelling  as  ‘ chas- 
quis,’  or  messengers,  they  will  not  unfrequently  go  for  two 
and  even  three  days  without  tasting  food.  In  our  expedition 
into  the  Cordillera  we  remained  over  forty-eight  hours  without 
food  except  wild  fruit,  and,  although  I at  first  suffered  from 
hunger,  my  companions  did  not  appear  to  be  in  any  way  incon- 
venienced. As  a Chilian  deserter  remarked  on  one  occasion, 
it  was  all  very  well  for  them  to  go  on  without  eating  ; ‘ but 
we  can’t — we’ve  not  so  much  fat.’  Their  strength  of  arm  is 
very  great,  and  the  distance  to  which  they  can  throw  the 
ostrich  bola  is  truly  astonishing  : thus  I have  seen  Crime 
and  some  others  ball  an  ostrich  over  seventy  yards  distant. 
When  cutting  wood  in  the  Cordillera  with  Hinchel,  a 
Chilian  deserter  and  myself  had  cut  a tree  through,  and, 
having  fastened  a lazo  to  the  top  branch,  were  endeavour- 
ing to  drag  it  down,  but  its  branches  became  entangled  in 
another  tree,  and  we  could  not  stir  it.  Hinchel,  seeing  our 
difficulty,  came  up,  and  with  one  well-directed,  vigorous  tug 
cleared  it  from  the  branches  and  brought  it  to  the  ground. 

Mr.  Clarke  also  informed  me  that  when  he  was  ill  with 
fever,  and  had  to  be  removed  from  the  Almacen  to  the 
lower  house  on  the  island,  on  account  of  the  noise  made 
by  the  drunken  Indians,  Waki  mounted,  and,  taking  him 
in  his  arms,  rode  down  seemingly  unencumbered  by  the 
burden.  Their  faces,  of  course,  vary  in  expression,  but  are 
ordinarily  bright  and  good-humoured,  though  when  in  the 
settlement  they  assume  a sober,  and  even  sullen,  demeanour. 
Waki  and  Cayuke,  two  friends  of  mine,  are  particularly 
present  to  my  recollection  as  having  always  had  a smile  on 
their  faces.  Their  ever-ready  laughter  displays  universally 
good  teeth,  which  they  keep  white  and  clean  by  chewing 
‘ maki,’  a gum  which  exudes  from  the  incense  bush,  and  is 
carefully  gathered  by  the  women  and  children.  It  has  a 
rather  pleasant  taste,  and  is  a most  excellent  dentifrice, 
worthy  to  rival  Odonto  or  Floriline,  and  it  is  used  simply  as 


168 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


such,  and  not,  as  Monsieur  Guinnard*  says,  because  their 
greediness  is  so  great  that  they  must  chew  something.  Their 
eyes  are  bright  and  intelligent,  and  their  noses — though,  of 
course,  presenting  different  types — are  as  a rule  aquiline 
and  well-formed,  and  devoid  of  the  breadth  of  nostril  proper 
to  the  ordinary  ideal  of  savage  tribes.  The  peculiar  pro- 
minence over  the  eyebrows  has  been  noticed  by  all  observers, 
and  retreating  foreheads,  though  observable,  are  exceptional. 
The  thick  masses  of  hair,  and  the  obvious  risk,  which  would 
deter  the  most  zealous  craniologist  from  endeavouring  to 
measure  their  heads,  must  be  deemed  sufficient  excuse  for 
my  not  being  able  to  state  whether  they  are  dolichokephalic 
or  brachykephalic  ; a point,  however,  which  I confess  did 
not  particularly  attract  my  observation  ; but,  for  the  partial 
comfort  of  anthropologists,  be  it  noted  that  both  Chilians 
and  myself  interchanged  hats  with  some  Tehuelches,  es- 
pecially Orkeke  and  Hinchel,  without  finding  misfits.  The 
complexion  of  the  men  is  reddish  brown,  that  is  to  say  when 
cleansed  from  paint,  and,  like  an  old  picture,  restored  to 
their  pristine  tint,  which  is  not  quite  so  deep  as  to  warrant 
Fitzroy’s  comparison  of  it  to  the  colour  of  a Devon  cow. 

The  scanty  natural  growth  of  beard,  moustaches,  and  even 
eyebrows,  is  carefully  eradicated  by  means  of  a pair  of  silver 
tweezers,  and  I was  often  urged  to  part  with  my  beard,  and 
undergo  this  painful  operation,  but  I naturally  objected  to 
comply  with  the  request.  The  men’s  heads  are  covered 
with  thick,  flowing  masses  of  long  hair,  of  which  they  take 
great  care,  making  their  wives,  or  other  female  relatives, 
brush  it  out  carefully  at  least  once  a day.  Very  few  appeared 
to  have  grey  hair ; though  there  were  a few  exceptions,  one  very 
old  man’s  hair  being  of  a snowy  whiteness,  which  contrasted 
strangely  with  his  tawny  face.  The  women  have,  as  far  as 
I could  judge,  an  average  height  of  about  five  feet  six  inches  : 
they  are  very  strong  in  the  arms,  but  seldom  walk  beyond 
fetching  the  supplies  of  wood  and  water,  all  their  journeys 


‘Three  Years’  Slavery,’  p.  233. 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  169 


being  performed  on  horseback.  Their  hair,  which  is  of  no 
great  length,  scarcely  indeed  equalling  that  of  the  men,  and 
very  coarse,  is  worn  in  two  plaited  tails,  which  on  gala  days 
are  artificially  lengthened,  probably  with  horse-hair  inter- 
woven with  blue  beads,  the  ends  being  garnished  with  silver 
pendants.  This  practice,  however,  is  confined,  I think,  to 
the  unmarried  ladies. 

Being  an  admirer  of  long  hair,  on  my  first  joining  the 
Indians  I greatly  admired  Tchang’s  daughter  for  her  ‘ head 
of  hair,’  two  immensely  long  tails  beautifully  embellished, 
which  I naturally  thought  was  all  her  own.  But,  meeting 
her  by  chance  on  the  following  morning  returning  to  the  toldo 
with  water,  to  my  great  disappointment  I found  that  she 
had  taken  her  spare  hair  off,  and  her  natural  locks  were  the 
reverse  of  long.  The  young  women  are  frequently  good- 
looking,  displaying  healthy,  ruddy  cheeks  when  not  disguised 
with  paint.  They  are  modest  in  behaviour,  though  very 
coquettish,  and  as  skilled  in  flirtation  as  if  they  had  been 
taught  in  more  civilised  society.  The  fair  widow  who  so 
nearly  hooked  the  Englishman  could  on  occasions  appeal  as 
prettily  for  help  as  a young  lady  in  imaginary  difficulties 
over  a country  stile.  Thus,  when  at  Orkeke’s  request  I led  the 
way  through  a river — half  way  across  the  channel  suddenly 
deepened,  with  muddy  bottom,  and  an  abrupt  bank  to  land 
on — I heard  a plaintive  appeal,  ‘ Muster,  help  me  ! my  horse 
is  too  small.’  Exposure  and  work  do  not  age  them  as 
soon  as  might  be  expected,  but  when  old  they  become  most 
hideous  beldames,  and  the  most  weird-like  witches  imagined 
by  Dore  would  be  surpassed  by  a trio  of  Tehuelche 
grandames.  The  dress  of  the  men  consists  of  a chiripa, 
or  under  garment  round  the  loins,  made  of  a poncho,  a piece 
of  cloth,  or  even  of  a guanaco  mantle  ; but,  whatever  the  ma- 
terial, this  article  of  dress  is  indispensable  and  scrupulously 
worn,  their  sense  of  decency  being  very  strong.  All  other 
garments  are  supplied  by  the  capacious  and  warm  skin 
mantle,  which,  worn  with  the  fur  inside  and  the  painted  side 


170 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


out,  will  keep  the  wearer  dry  for  a considerable  time  in  the 
wettest  weather.  This  is  often  dispensed  with  in  the  chase, 
but,  if  worn  when  riding,  is  secured  at  the  waist  by  a belt  of 
hide  or  leather  if  it  can  be  obtained.  When  in  camp  the 
belt  is  not  used,  and  the  garment  is  worn  loose,  something 
after  the  fashion  of  the  ‘ melodramatic  assassin’s  ’ cloak. 
When  sitting  by  the  fireside,  or  even  when  walking  about, 
the  furred  part  of  the  mantle  is  generally  kept  over  the 
mouth — as  the  Tehuelches  aver  that  the  cold  wind  causes 
sore  gums — a habit  which  assists  in  rendering  their  guttural 
and  at  all  times  rather  unintelligible  language  more  difficult 
of  comprehension  to  the  novice. 

Their  potro  boots  (fig.  5)  or  buskins  are  made  from  the  skin 
of  horse’s  hock,  and  occasionally  from  the  leg  of  a large  puma, 
drawn  on  up  to  the  knee  and  fastened  round  the  foot.  It  is 
thus  worn  for  a day  or  two  until  the  boot  has  taken  the 
shape  of  the  foot,  when  the  leather  is  cut  at  the  toes  and 
sewn  up  to  fit.  When  the  sole  is  worn,  or  in  very  wet  or 
snowy  weather,  hide  overshoes  are  worn  besides,  and  the 
footprints  thus  made  are  really  large  enough  to  convey  the 
idea  of  giant’s  feet,  and  partly  explain  the  term  1 Patagon,’ 
or  large  feet,  applied  to  these  Indians  by  the  Spanish  dis- 
coverers. The  boots  are  rarely  put  on  in  camp,  for  economical 
reasons,  though  turning  out  barefoot  in  the  frozen  grass  at 
daylight  is  unpleasant  even  to  a Tehuelche.  But  the  material 
of  the  boot  would  soon  wear  out  if  used  for  walking.  In 
riding  they  are  secured  by  garters,  either  gay  coloured 
woven  bands,  or,  which  is  de  rigueur  for  chiefs,  of  hide,  with 
massive  silver  buckles.  Although  the  usual  head-dress  of 
the  men  is  simply  a coloured  fillet  to  confine  the  hair,  yet 
sometimes,  and  especially  on  state  occasions,  hats,  if  pro- 
curable, are  indulged  in.  Old  Orkeke  frequently  wore  a felt 
wideawake,  which  was,  on  returning  from  hunting,  carefully 
put  up  by  his  thoughtful  spouse. 

The  women’s  dress  consists  of  a mantle  similar  to  that 
worn  by  the  men,  but  secured  at  the  throat  by  a large  silver 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  171 


pin  with  a broad  disc,  or  a nail,  or  thorn,  according  to  the 
wealth  or  poverty  of  the  wearer ; and  under  this  is  a loose 
calico  or  stuff  sacque,  extending  from  the  shoulders  to  the 
ankle.  When  travelling  the  mantle  is  secured  at  the  waist 
by  a broad  belt  ornamented  with  blue  beads,  and  silver  or 
brass  studs.  The  boots  worn  by  the  women  are  similar  to 
those  described,  with  the  exception  that  in  then-  preparation 
the  hah’  is  left  on  the  hide,  while  it  is  carefully  removed 
from  those  of  the  men.  The  children  are  dressed  in  small 
mantles,  but  are  more  frequently  allowed  to  run  about  naked 
up  to  the  age  of  six  or  eight ; their  little  boots  are  made 
from  the  skin  taken  from  the  fore-legs  of  the  guanaco,  soft- 
ened in  the  hand.  The  small  children  generally  remon- 
strated strongly  and  effectually  against  wearing  this  article  of 
clothing  ; and  whatever  the  severity  of  the  weather,  preferred 
running  about  barefoot.  The  cradles  for  the  babies  are 
formed  of  strips  of  wicker-work  interlaced  with  hide  thongs, 
fitted  with  a cover  to  keep  sun  and  rain  off,  and  made  of  a 
convenient  shape  to  rest  on  the  saddle  gear  of  the  mother 
when  on  the  march.  They  are  ornamented,  if  the  parents 
are  wealthy,  with  little  bells,  brass  or  even  silver  plates. 
The  women  are  fond  of  ornaments,  wearing  huge  earrings 
of  square  shape,  suspended  to  small  rings  passing  through 
the  lobe  of  the  ear  ; also  silver  or  blue  bead  necklaces.  The 
men  also  wear  these  necklaces,  and  adorn  their  belts,  pipes, 
knives,  sheaths,  and  horse-gear  with  silver.  Those  who  can 
afford  it  also  indulge  in  silver  spurs  and  stirrups  ; most  of 
their  ornaments,  except  the  beads,  are  home  made,  being 
beaten  out  of  dollars  obtained  by  commerce  in  the  settle- 
ments. Both  sexes  smear  their  faces,  and  occasionally 
then-  bodies,  with  paint,  the  Indians  alleging  as  the  reason 
for  using  this  cosmetic,  that  it  is  a protection  against  the 
effect  of  the  winds  ; and  I found  from  personal  experience 
that  it  proved  a complete  preservative  from  excoriation  or 
chapped  skin.  It  proved  equally  effective  against  the  sun, 
which  in  Henno  peeled  my  face  completely  until  I resumed 


172 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


the  paint — which  I had  left  off— not  wishing  to  appear  as  a 
noble  savage  to  the  new  comers.  The  paint  for  the  face  is 
composed  of  either  red  ochre  or  black  earth  mixed  with 
grease  obtained  from  the  marrow  bones  of  the  game  killed 
in  the  chase,  all  of  which  are  carefully  husbanded  by  the 
women,  and  when  opportunity  offers  pounded  and  boiled  in 
the  large  pots ; the  grease  and  gelatine  being  carefully 
skimmed  off  and  secured.  On  state  occasions,  such  as  a 
birth  feast,  and  for  a dance,  the  men  further  adorn  them- 
selves with  white  paint,  or  powdered  gypsum,  which  they 
moisten  and  rub  on  their  hands,  and  make  five  white  finger- 
marks over  their  chests,  arms,  and  legs.  The  usual  morning 
toilette  is  simple ; after  the  plunge  in  the  river,  which 
is  almost  always  the  first  thing,  except  of  course  when  cir- 
cumstances prevent  it,  indulged  in  by  both  sexes,  who 
bathe  scrupulously  apart,  and  generally  before  daylight. 
The  men’s  hair  is  dressed  by  their  wives,  daughters,  or  sweet- 
hearts, who  take  the  greatest  care  to  burn  any  hairs  that 
may  be  brushed  out,  as  they  fully  believe  that  spells  may  be 
wrought  by  evil-intentioned  persons  who  can  obtain  a piece 
of  their  hair.  From  the  same  idea,  after  cutting  their 
nails,  the  parings  are  carefully  committed  to  the  flames. 
After  the  hair-brushing,  which  is  performed  by  means  of  a rude 
hand-brush,  the  women  adorn  the  men’s  faces  with  paint ; if  in 
mourning  they  put  on  black  paint,  and  if  going  to  fight,  some- 
times put  a little  white  paint  under  the  eyes,  which  assists  in 
contrast  to  the  other  in  giving  a savage  expression.  The 
women  paint  each  other’s  faces,  or  if  possessed,  as  sometimes 
occurs,  of  a fragment  of  looking-glass,  paint  their  own. 
Both  sexes  tattoo  on  the  forearm,  by  the  simple  process  of 
puncturing  the  skin  with  a bodkin,  and  inserting  a mixture 
of  blue  earth  with  a piece  of  dry  glass  : the  usual  patterns 
consist  of  a series  of  parallel  lines,  and  sometimes  a single 
triangle,  or  a double  triangle,  the  upper  one  resting  on  the 
apex  of  the  lower.  I myself  had  one  line  tattooed  by  a fair 
enslaver,  and  confess  that  the  process  was  rather  painful. 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  173 


Indians  have  a good  deal  of  regard  for  personal  cleanli- 
ness, and  besides  the  morning  ablutions  enjoy  bathing  when 
encamped  near  a river,  swimming  and  diving  for  hours 
together.  They  also  are  scrupulously  careful  as  to  the  clean- 
liness of  then-  toldos  and  utensils,  and  will,  if  they  can 
obtain  soap,  wash  up  everything  they  may  be  possessed  of. 
Notwithstanding  these  precautions,  they  are  very  much 
afflicted  by  vermin,  which  effect  a firm  lodgment  in  the  wool 
of  their  mantles.  This  may  be  attributed  to  their  mode 
of  life,  and  their  food,  as  well  as  to  the  materials  of  their 
clothing  ; and  any  traveller  who  wishes  to  sojourn  with  the 
Indians  must  make  up  his  mind  to  subject  himself  to  these 
inflictions,  to  which,  however  ( experto  crede ),  he  will  soon 
become  inured.  Their  method  of  hunting  and  of  cooking 
the  meat  obtained  by  the  chase  has  been  fully  described  in 
a previous  chapter.  Among  the  arms  and  implements  figured 
in  the  illustration  will  be  found  (figs.  9 and  10)  the  weapons 
chiefly  employed  in  the  pursuit  of  game,  namely,  the 
bolas  fitted  with  two  balls  called  ‘ chume,’  for  capturing 
the  ostrich,  and  those  with  three  called  ‘yachiko,’  for 
guanaco  hunting,  which  are  similar  to  those  used  by  the 
Gauchos  in  the  Argentine  Provinces.  The  balls  are  gene- 
rally of  stone,  but  sometimes  white  metal  or  copper  balls  are 
employed,  procured  in  the  settlements,  which  require  no 
covering,  and  are  more  and  more  coming  into  fashion  of  late 
years  ; iron  balls  also,  or  iron  ore,  obtained  and  hammered 
into  the  requisite  shape  by  the  Tehuelches  themselves,  are 
common  ; these  are  for  the  round  striking  ball  or  balls  : but 
the  oval-shaped  hand-ball,  which  is  grasped  in  the  hand,  and 
is  necessarily  fighter  by  at  least  one-third  than  the  other,  is 
generally  made  of  the  soft  vesicular  lava  which  abounds  in 
so  many  districts.  The  tough  fight  thong  for  swinging 
balls  round  the  head  is  generally  made,  as  previously  de- 
scribed, of  ostrich  or  guanaco  sinews  plaited  in  four  plaits, 
the  length  of  which  should  be  between  seven  and  eight  feet. 
It  is  always  best  to  ball  a quarry  when  galloping  in  an  exact 


174 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


line,  as  the  necks  of  guanaco  and  ostrich  are  always  aimed 
at  ; entangling  the  hind  legs  of  the  quadruped  being  use- 
less, though  cattle  and  horses  are  always  balled  round  the 
hind  legs.  A shot  at  a bird  or  beast  bounding  or  running 
across  is  almost  sure  to  miss  ; of  course  misses  are  frequent, 
as  fifty  to  seventy  yards  is  often  the  distance  of  a shot  de- 
livered from  a horse’s  back  at  full  gallop  and  the  balls 
whirr  through  the  air  with  their  peculiar  sound,  only  per- 
haps to  fall  into  a tangled  bush.  Then  it  is  that  the  advan- 
tage of  the  bright  material  becomes  evident,  for  the  horse- 
man does  not  stop,  but  gallops  on  and  throws  another  pair, 
returning  afterwards  to  pick  up  the  dropped  weapons,  fre- 
quently very  hard  to  find  on  the  pebble-strewn,  grass-grown, 
or  shrub-covered  surface.  I generally  threw  down  a hand- 
kerchief or  some  such  thing,  easily  seen,  to  mark  the  spot ; 
but  the  metal  bolas  are  so  much  preferred  on  account  of 
being  easily  seen,  that  a pair  are  worth  a horse.  In  addition 
to  the  bolas,  a lazo  is  used  when  hunting  cattle  or  horses, 
and  sometimes  for  the  pumas,  although  the  ordinary  method 
is  to  kill  them  by  first  stunning  them  with  a blow  on  the 
head.  The  arms  of  the  Tehuelches  consist  of  gun  or  re- 
volver, sword  or  dagger,  a long  heavy  lance,  used  only  by 
dismounted  Indians,  and  altogether  different  to  the  light 
lance  of  Araucanian  and  Pampa  horsemen,  and  the  bola  per- 
dida  or  single  ball,  so  called  because  once  thrown  it  is  not 
picked  up  again  : this  weapon  is  quickly  constructed  ; a 
sharp-pointed  stone  is  taken,  covered  with  hide  except  the 
point,  which  is  left  out,  and  thong  of  raw  hide  about  a 
yard  long  is  attached,  with  a knot  made  in  the  end  to  pre- 
vent it  slipping  from  the  hand  whilst  whirling  it  round 
previous  to  throwing  it  at  an  enemy.  Before  the  introduc- 
tion of  firearms,  the  bola  perdida  was  the  original  weapon 
of  the  Tehuelches,  and  is  even  at  the  present  day  a most 
deadly  missile  in  their  hands.  (See  fig.  11.) 

I am  aware  that  Pigafetta,  the  historian  of  Magellan’s 
voyage,  describes  the  ancestors  of  these  Indians  as  using 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEBUELCHES.  175 


bows  and  arrows,  but  I am  inclined  to  think  that  this  must 
have  applied  either  to  a tribe  of  Fuegians  or  a party  of 
Pampas  living  in  the  valley  of  the  Rio  Negro.  It  is  certain 
that  no  ancient  flint  arrow-heads  are  met  with  south  of  the 
Rio  Negro,  where  they  abound  ; also  that  there  is  but  little, 
if  any,  wood  nearer  than  the  Cordillera  suitable  for  bows, 
and  it  is  reasonable  to  suppose  that  previous  to  the  intro- 
duction of  horses  the  Indian  migrations  were  confined  to  a 
smaller  area  ; besides,  although  no  arrow-heads  are  found 
in  the  interior  of  Patagonia  proper,  ancient  bolas  are  not 
unfrequently  met  with.  These  are  highly  valued  by  the 
Indians,  and  differ  from  those  in  present  use  by  having 
grooves  cut  round  them,  and  by  their  larger  size  and  greater 
weight.  The  introduction  and  diffusion  of  firearms  has 
almost  superseded  the  use  of  defensive  armour  ; but  chain 
suits,  and  hide  surcoats  studded  thickly  with  silver,  are  still 
— as  instances  before  given  show — possessed  and  employed : 
and  before  going  into  battle  the  warriors  are  often  padded 
like  cricketers,  corconillas  or  saddle-cloths,  and  ponchos 
being  employed  to  form  a covering,  the  folds  of  which  will 
turn  a sword  cut  or  lance  thrust. 

During  our  long  sojourn  at  Teckel,  as  hunting  was  avoided 
as  much  as  possible,  in  order  to  rest  the  horses,  the  men 
occupied  themselves  in  Indian  arts  and  manufacture,  some 
account  of  which  may  be  deemed  interesting. 

As  the  horse  is  the  mainstay  of  the  Indian,  let  the  saddle- 
gear  take  precedence.  (See  figs.  1,  2,  8,  4.) 

The  saddles  are  constructed  in  the  following  manner.  A 
piece  of  timber  is  split  in  two,  and  reduced,  by  means  of  a 
small  hand-adze,  to  the  requisite  size  and  thickness  to  form 
the  side  boards  or  flaps,  skilfully  adapted  to  the  shape  of  the 
horse’s  back;  in  these  boards  holes  are  bored  at  each  end, 
and  the  saddle-trees,  which  are  chosen  from  angular  limbs  of 
trees,  like  knees  for  boat-building,  and  reduced  to  the  requi- 
site size,  are  lashed  on  by  hide.  Over  this  fresh  guanaco 
hide,  divested  of  its  woolly  coat  and  carefully  cut  to  the 


176 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


proper  shape,  is  sewn  with  sinew,  serving,  as  it  dries,  to  bind 
the  whole  securely  together.  Casimiro  was  the  most  skilful 
workman  of  the  party,  and  made  a saddle  for  me  which, 
although  through  having  to  start  in  a hurry  it  was  not 
smoothed  down  or  covered  with  hide,  I used  for  about  five 
weeks  without  any  chafing  of  the  horse’s  back.  Underneath 
the  saddle  a thick  mandil,  or  poncho,  is  placed;  and  over  the 
saddle  a corconilla,  or  housing,  of  puma  or  yearling  guanaco 
skin,  or,  which  is  always  preferred  if  obtainable,  a black 
sheepskin.  The  Araucanians  weave  corconillas  of  most 
beautiful  texture  and  brilliant  blue  colour,  which  are  sold 
for  as  much  as  £5  in  the  settlements.  The  girths  are 
made  of  thirteen  or  fourteen  ties  of  twisted  hide  from  the 
neck  of  the  guanaco,  and  fitted  with  two  rings  connected  by 
a leather  thong.  The  stirrups  are  suspended  by  strips  of 
hide  from  the  holes  bored  in  the  foremost  saddle-trees.  They 
are  generally  made  of  a piece  of  hard  wood  fixed  into  a raw 
hide  thong,  or  sometimes  of  wood  bent  into  a triangular 
shape.  The  swells,  of  course,  sport  silver  stirrups,  but  they 
are  frequently  not  used  at  all.  The  saddle  is  also  taken  off 
when  the  hunting  circle  is  being  closed  and  the  horses 
ridden  hare-hacked,  but  it  is  replaced  to  carry  the  meat  back 
to  the  toldos.  Sometimes  it  occurs  that  an  Indian  loses  his 
saddle  at  play,  when  he  is  perforce  obliged  to  ride  bare- 
backed, and  it  never  appears  to  inconvenience  them.  The 
bridles  are  made  of  either  plaited  or  twisted  hide.  The  bits 
used  vary,  but  the  more  general  is  a simple  bar  of  either 
wood  or  iron,  covered  at  either  end  with  two  flaps  of  stout 
hide,  from  which  two  thongs  extend  under  the  horse’s  jaw, 
forming  an  effectual  curb,  the  reins  being  also  secured  to  the 
hide-flaps.  The  bar  is  frequently  omitted,  and  a simple 
thong  is  placed  in  the  horse’s  mouth  and  rove  through  the 
piece  of  hide,  which  is  secured  to  the  bridle  and  tied  under 
the  jaw.  I used  this  simple  bit  the  whole  of  the  journey, 
and  never  had  reason  to  find  fault  with  it.  The  spurs  are 
made  of  two  pieces  of  hard  wood,  with  nails  filed  to  a sharp 


2 


178 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


point  fixed  in  the  ends,  for  which  I once  tried  to  substitute 
bone  spikes,  but  they  required  constant  sharpening  and  broke 
quickly.  The  spurs  are  secured  to  the  feet  by  thongs.  Head- 
stalls  for  breaking  horses  are  made  either  of  plain  or  plaited 
hide,  with  a ring  underneath  for  the  Maneador. 

Lazos  are  made  either  of  twisted  or  plaited  hide,  similar 
to  those  in  use  among  the  Gauchos.  The  only  other  articles 
of  horse-gear  worthy  of  mention  are  the  ‘ maneos,’  called  by 
the  Indians  ‘ caligi,  ’ or  straps  for  securing  the  horse’s  legs, 
in  order  to  teach  him  to  stand  when  the  rider  has  dis- 
mounted ; but  the  horses  soon  learn  to  await  the  return  of 
the  rider.  Since  my  return  a hunting  friend,  hearing  the 
ehase  described,  eagerly  inquired,  ‘ But  who  held  your 
horse  ? ’ The  well-trained  Tehuelche  hunters  hold  them- 
selves, and  no  boy  or  man  is  available  to  render  this  service 
to  any  one  unlucky  enough  to  he  mounted  on  an  uneducated 
steed.  Our  breakers  might  take  a useful  lesson  from  the 
‘ savages.’ 

Another  branch  of  general  industry  is  the  manufacture  of 
pipe-bowls,  which  are  peculiar  in  shape,  as  may  he  seen 
in  the  plate  (fig.  12).  They  are  made  of  either  wood  or 
stone,  fitted  with  a silver  or  metal  tube,  and  frequently  orna- 
mented with  silver.  The  greatest  pains  is  taken  to  keep 
them  free  from  tobacco  juice  by  constant  cleaning  with  an 
ostrich  feather. 

Wooden  platters  are  sometimes  made,  for  containing  meat 
or  grease  ; and  I have  seen  wooden  or  horn  spoons  con- 
structed, but  these  articles  are  rare.  Casimiro’s  toldo 
rejoiced  in  one  of  the  latter,  and  it  rather  resembled  a shoe- 
horn. The  men  are  many  of  them  skilful  workers  in  silver, 
made  from  dollars  obtained  in  the  settlements,  and  tempered 
until  they  become  sufficiently  malleable  to  be  beaten  out 
into  the  requisite  shapes,  either  for  buckles,  garters,  plates, 
beads,  or  studs  for  embossing  belts  or  armour  with.  These 
‘ cups,’  or  studs,  are  generally  hollowed  out  in  a suitable 
cavity,  worked  in  a stone  ; they  are  then  pierced  at  the  edges 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  179 


with  a bodkin,  and  sewn  to  the  hide  with  sinew.  The 
anvils  and  hammers  for  working  silver  are  generally  stone 
implements ; flints,  however,  are  only  used  by  the  men  for 
procuring  fire.  The  Tehuelches  are  also  very  handy  workers 
in  iron,  and  will  fashion  a knife,  or  even  an  adze,  out  of  any 
piece  of  metal  procured  by  theft,  commerce  in  the  colonies, 
or  from  wrecks  on  the  coast.  One  of  the  knives  frequently 
used  in  the  latter  part  of  my  journey  was  formed  out  of  one 
blade  of  an  old  pair  of  scissors  forged  for  me  by  Hinchel. 

Their  tools  for  working  silver,  iron,  wood,  &c.,  consist  of 
files,  known  by  the  expressive  name  of  ‘Khikerikikh,’  or  per- 
haps a rasp,  an  occasional  saw,  an  axe,  the  inevitable  small 
adze'(fig.  6),  a pair  of  scissors,  or  an  old  chisel.  Many  of  these 
have  been  obtained  from  shipwrecks  on  the  coast,  others  by 
barter  in  the  settlements. 

The  women’s  most  important  occupation  in  camp  was  the 
making  up  of  skin  mantles,  which  merits  a full  description. 

The  skins  are  first  dried  in  the  sun,  being  pegged  down 
with  thorns  of  the  algarroba  tree.  When  dry  they  are  taken 
up,  and  scraped  with  pieces  of  flint,  agate,  obsidian,  or  some- 
times glass,  fixed  into  a branch  naturally  bent  so  as  to  form  a 
handle  (fig.  7).  They  are  then  smeared  over  with  grease  and 
liver  kneaded  into  pulp,  after  which  they  are  softened  in  the 
hand  until  quite  pliable,  when  they  are  placed  on  the  ground 
and  cut  with  a small,  very  sharp  knife  into  pieces,  dovetailed 
so  as  to  fit  one  into  the  other,  in  order  to  secure  strength  of 
seam,  and  parcelled  out  amongst  a party  of  four  or  six 
women,  with  a corresponding  quantity  of  needles  and  thread, 
consisting  of  bodkins  formed  out  of  sharpened  nails,  and 
dried  sinews  from  the  back  of  the  adult  guanaco.  A whole 
mantle  is  never  sewn  together  at  once,  but  when  one  half  is 
finished  it  is  pegged  out  and  the  paint  applied  to  it  thus. 
The  surface  is  slightly  damped,  and  each  woman  takes  a cake 
or  piece  of  red  ochre,  if  the  ground  is  to  be  red,  and,  keeping 
it  damp,  lays  the  paint  on  with  great  care.  When  the 
ground  is  finished,  the  pattern  of  small  black  spots  and  blue 


180  AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


and  yellow  lines  is  painted  with  the  greatest  exactness,  the 
women  working  all  day  with  the  most  assiduous  industry. 
When  completed  it  is  left  for  a night  to  dry,  and  the  other 
half  and  wings,  which  serve  in  lieu  of  sleeves,  are  duly  com- 
pleted, and  subsequently  all  are  joined  together,  presenting, 
when  finished,  an  unbroken  surface  of  fur.  The  most 
favourite  pattern  (except  when  the  wearer  is  in  mourning)  is 
a red  ground  with  small  black  crosses  and  blue  and  yellow 
longitudinal  lines  for  borders,  or  with  a zigzag  of  white,  blue, 
and  red.  The  untiring  energy  with  which  the  women  work, 
and  the  rapidity  with  which  they  sew,  are  astonishing.  When 
a man  is  married,  his  wife,  or  wives,  of  course  manufacture  his 
iriantles,  assisted  by  their  friends,  whom  they  help  in  their 
turn  ; but  should  he  be  a bachelor,  as  in  my  unfortunate  case, 
he  gives  out  his  skins  to  a fair  lady,  who  works  like  other 
people  I have  heard  of — on  half-profits,  and  the  hunter  gene- 
rally loses  by  the  bargain  ; at  least  such  was  my  experience, 
some  thirty  or  forty  skins  only  producing  a mantle  contain- 
ing about  one-third  their  number.  Besides  the  guanaco 
mantles  which  are  most  generally  worn,  others  are  made 
from  the  skins  of  the  fox,  puma,  wild  cat,  cavy,  and  skunk  ; 
the  fur  of  the  latter  and  of  the  wild  cat  are  the  most  valuable, 
but,  like  the  others,  are  generally  intended  only  for  barter. 
The  women,  besides  making  mantles,  weave  the  fillets  for  the 
head  previously  mentioned,  from  threads  of  unravelled  stuff 
obtained  in  barter  at  the  settlements,  or  from  their  Arau- 
canian  neighbours.  They  work  on  the  same  principle  as 
that  on  which  a sailor  constructs  a sword  mat.  Besides 
these  fillets,  they  occasionally  weave  scarves  for  the  waist,  and 
garters.  Many  of  them  also  work  in  the  minor  details  of 
silver  ornaments,  such  as  hollowing  out  or  bending  the  studs, 
boring  the  holes,  and  stitching  them  on  to  the  belts  or 
armour,  as  the  case  may  be.  They  also  sew  the  skins 
together  for  the  coverings  of  the  toldos,  which  is  very 
laborious  work.  They  scrape  and  dress  horse-hides  for  the 
furniture  of  the  bed-places,  painting  them  in  various  pat- 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  181 


terns  ; make  the  bolsters  of  reeds  (often  also  ornamented 
with  silver)  to  place  as  a protection  for  their  high  saddles, 
cook  the  food,  smash  the  marrow-bones  and  extract  the 
grease ; take  care  of  the  children,  and  fetch  wood,  water  and 
do  all  the  ‘ chores,’  as  the  Americans  say.  As  may  be  seen, 
they  are  pretty  nearly  always,  occupied ; nevertheless,  they 
occasionally  find  time  to  play  cards,  and  sometimes  to 
squabble  and  talk  scandal. 

The  children  generally  employ  themselves  in  imitating 
their  elders.  The  boys  play  with  miniature  bolas,  and  catch 
the  dogs  with  small  lazos,  and  the  girls  construct  miniature 
toldos  and  sit  in  them  ; for  this  purpose  they  carry  off  un- 
checked anything  that  may  seem  suitable.  Frequently  when 
about  to  join  the  chase  I had  to  interfere  with  these  latter 
games,  and  recover  my  saddle-gear,  which  had  been  appro- 
priated by  the  juveniles. 

The  musical  instruments  of  the  Tehuelches  have  been  pre- 
viously described.  In  Teckel,  besides  the  native  orchestra 
(fig.  8)  and  harmonies,  to  which  one  had  become  accustomed, 
we  furthermore  rejoiced  in  a cornet,  with  music  from  which 
Jackechan’s  brother  frequently  enlivened  our  evenings. 
Many  amongst  the  Tehuelches  could  blow  the  ordinary  bugle 
calls  which  they  had  been  accustomed  to  hear  when  in  the 
Rio  Negro  or  at  Punta  Arenas  ; and  most  of  them  appeared 
to  possess  a good  ear  for  music.  Them  songs,  however,  are 
not  melodious,  and  are  mere  repetitions  of  words  devoid  of 
all  sense  or  meaning.  Casimiro  informed  me  that  formerly 
the  old  men  were  in  the  habit  of  singing  the  traditions  of 
the  tribe  and  also  some  sort  of  prayer.  It  is  much  to  be 
regretted  that  these  customs  have  fallen  into  disuse.  I tried 
on  various  occasions  to  obtain  information  about  their  an- 
cestors, but  all  my  efforts  were  fruitless.  When  I asked 
them  how  their  people  travelled  before  horses  came  into  the 
country,  they  could  not  realise  the  fact  that  such  was  ever 
the  case. 

There  is  little  to  add  to  the  details  already  given  of  the 


182 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


cookery  and  diet  of  the  Tekuelckes,  which  is  necessarily 
almost  confined  to  meat,  which,  however,  they  do  not  devour 
raw,  as  so  constantly  asserted.  Fat  is  largely  consumed, 
both  fresh  and  preserved  ; the  need  of  this  being,  as  before 
said,  attributable  to  the  want  of  farinaceous  food.  Still  they 
are  very  fond  of  all  sorts  of  wild  fruits  and  vegetables,  when 
procurable ; and  besides  the  indigenous  tuberous  roots,  and 
the  ever-present  dandelion  plants,  which  the  girls  gather  for 
them  friends  and  relations,  and  which  are  eaten  in  a crude 
state,  they  will  when  in  the  settlements  barter  their  wares 
for  potatoes,  turnips,  and  other  vegetables.  They  are  also 
extremely  fond  of  biscuit  and  flour,  which  they  mix  with 
water  into  dampers,  and  bake  them  in  the  ashes.  Previous 
to  my  sojourn  amongst  them,  pepper  was,  I believe,  unknown, 
but  having  a small  store  in  my  possession,  I induced  old 
Orkeke  and  his  dame  to  try  it,  and  they  and  others  soon 
acquired  a taste  for  it.  Sugar,  or  anything  sweet,  they  are 
especially  fond  of.  Salt  is  a very  necessary  commodity 
with  them,  and  when  passing  one  of  the  numerous  salinas 
that  occur  in  the  country  the  stores  are  replenished.  It 
sometimes  happens,  however,  if  making  a long  stay  in  one 
place,  or  travelling  in  parts  where  salinas  are  scarce,  they 
have  to  go  without  it ; and  this  is  probably  the  cause  of  a 
skin  disease  that  at  times  occurs  amongst  them.  Salt  is 
carried  as  a rule  by  the  men  when  hunting,  both  to  mix  with 
the  blood,  which  is  seldom  eaten  without  it,  and  to  season 
the  guanaco  or  ostrich  meat. 

I think  that  as  a rule  the  Indians,  far  from  being  glutton- 
ous gormandisers,  eat  less  than  civilised  people.  They  never 
eat  at  stated]  times,  but  when  their  appetite  warns  them  ; 
and  on  this  point  an  Indian  once  made  the  remark  to  me  : 

‘ The  Chilians  eat  at  regular  hours,  which  is  foolish ; we 
don’t  eat  unless  we  are  hungry.’  I believe  that  I,  as  a single 
individual,  generally  consumed  more  victuals  than  any  Indian, 
with  the  exception  of  my  friend  Cayuke,  who  was  certainly 
a great  gourmand.  He  was  also  a great  smoker ; and  when- 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  183 


ever  I met  him  invariably  said  the  few  English  words  I had 
taught  him,  ‘ Load  and  light  the  pipe — smoke.’  The  general 
manner  of  smoking  is  as  follows.  The  smoker  lights  his 
pipe,  and  then  lies  prone  on  the  ground,  and  after  puffing  a 
portion  of  smoke  to  each  cardinal  point  and  muttering  a 
prayer,  he  swallows  several  mouthfuls  of  tobacco  smoke, 
which  produces  intoxication  and  partial  insensibility,  lasting 
perhaps  for  the  space  of  two  minutes.  During  this  time  his 
companions  carefully  avoid  disturbing  him  in  any  way. 
When  it  has  passed  off,  he  gets  up,  takes  a drink  of  water, 
and  resumes  his  conversation  or  occupation.  I have  some- 
times observed  this  intoxication  accompanied  by  convulsions, 
but  only  in  rare  cases.  The  tobacco  used  for  smoking  (for 
they  never  chew)  is  generally  obtained  from  the  settlements, 
but  failing  this  a herb  substitute  is  procured  from  the  Arau- 
canians.  This  is  never  smoked  pure,  being  invariably  mixed 
with  either  wood  chopped  up  small  or  ‘ yerba  ’ (Paraguay 
tea)  stalks,  if  obtainable.  The  mixture  with  dung  mentioned 
by  M.  Guinnard  is  unknown  among  the  Tehuelches. 

The  women  sometimes  are  smokers,  but  the  custom  is  not 
universal,  being  generally  confined  to  the  old  ladies.  Most 
of  the  men  smoke,  but  there  are  exceptions.  I was  very 
much  astonished,  however,  by  seeing  El  Sourdo  on  more 
than  one  occasion  give  his  pipe  to  his  boy — a precocious 
three-year-old — who  whiffed  his  1 bacca  ’ with  apparently 
great  satisfaction  to  himself  and  his  fond  father. 

The  chief  amusements  amongst  the  Indians  (for  hunting 
is  a matter  of  business  and  not  pleasure)  consist  in  horse- 
racing, card-playing,  gambling  with  dice,  made  by  them- 
selves with  mathematical  exactness  from  bones,  and  thrown 
from  the  hand,  or  with  small  stones,  and  playing  a game  of 
ball.  The  horse-racing  has  been  already  described.  The 
cards  used  are  sometimes  the  Spanish  pack,  obtained  in  the 
settlements,  but  very  frequently  constructed  by  the  Indians 
themselves  of  hide.  These,  like  the  ordinary  Spanish  cards, 
are  marked  with  the  Spanish  numerals  up  to  seven ; but  the 


184 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


court  cards  are  entirely  different,  having,  instead  of  figures 
or  pictures,  monograms  of  native  origin,  the  original  signi- 
ficance of  which,  if  any,  was  undiscoverable.  The  ace, 
however,  is  marked  somewhat  similarly  to  our  own.  The 
usual  games  played  are  ‘ Panturga,’  * Primero,’  ‘ Siete,’  and 
‘ Yaik,’  or  fire,  a sort  of 1 heggar  my  neighbour.’  The  players 
sit  down  in  a circle,  with  a poncho  or  saddle-cloth  to  repre- 
sent the  board  of  green  cloth  ; their  markers  consist  of  pieces 
of  sticks  or  grass,  and  their  system  of  marking  is  compli- 
cated. I generally — if  I did  indulge  in  the  luxury  of  a 
gamble — played  in  partnership  -with  another  who  took  charge 
of  the  marking,  but  my  invariable  good  luck  rendered  me 
unwilling  to  respond  to  the  invitation  to  take  a hand.  When 
stakes  are  lost,  whether  a horse,  troop  of  mares,  saddle, 
lazo,  or  what  not,  the  winner  simply  sends  a friend  for  them, 
or  goes  himself  and  takes  them ; all  debts  of  honour  being 
scrupulously  paid  at  once.  Frequently  large  stakes  are  lost 
and  won.  On  one  occasion  I had  negotiated  the  purchase 
of  a horse  from  an  Indian  possessed  of  a goodly  troop,  and 
having  given  earnest,  had  started  hunting  on  the  animal  to 
test  his  staying  powers.  My  friend  the  owner,  who  re- 
mained in  camp  playing,  came  to  me  on  my  return,  and 
implored  me  to  consider  the  bargain  as  nil,  as  during  my 
absence  he  had  lost  nearly  all  his  horses,  and  some  of  the 
articles  of  his  wife’s  dowry.  I of  course  gave  up  the  bar- 
gain, duly  receiving  back  the  earnest,  and  he  subsequently 
won  back  his  houses  and  riches.  The  game  played  with 
small  stones  is  similar  to  that  in  vogue  among  schoolboys, 
and  known  by  the  name  of  ‘ knucklebones.’  It  is  generally 
played  by  the  boys,  but  their  elders  will  not  unfrequently 
join.  The  women  play  at  cards,  and  also  at  this  game, 
amongst  themselves,  staking  their  mandils,  hides,  and  saddle- 
gear  on  the  results.  Mrs.  Orkeke  was  very  fond  of  play, 
and  on  one  occasion  I have  reason  to  believe  that  she  lost 
some  of  her  husband’s  tobacco,  and  laid  the  blame  on  one 
of  the  Chilians,  who  she  averred  had  stolen  it.  The  man 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  185 


nearly  lost  his  life  in  consequence,  and  his  tears  and  abject 
supplications  showed  the  terror  he  was  in,  but  happily  he 
on  this  occasion  escaped.  Strange  to  say,  I was  in  no  way 
suspected,  although  I knew  where  the  tobacco  was  kept, 
which  I doubt  if  the  deserter  did. 

The  game  of  ball  is  confined  to  the  young  men,  and  is 
played  as  follows.  A lazo  is  laid  on  the  ground  so  as  to  form 
a ring  about  four  yards  in  diameter ; the  players,  generally 
eight  in  number,  step  into  the  circle  naked,  with  the  excep- 
tion of  the  waistcloth.  A ball  composed  of  hide  stuffed  with 
feathers,  about  the  size  of  or  larger  than  a tennis-ball,  is  used 
by  each  party,  who  throw  it  up  from  under  the  thigh,  and 
strike  it  with  the  hand  at  the  adversaries’,  each  hit  counting 
a point.  Great  dexterity  and  activity  are  shown  by  the 
young  men,  and  although  I never  joined  in  any  of  their 
regular  matches,  I frequently  watched  the  parties  occupied 
in  the  game,  in  which  their  splendid  muscular  development 
was  brought  out  conspicuously.  Besides  these  amusements, 
the  Indians,  when  ammunition  is  plentiful,  occasionally  fire 
at  a mark  ; but  as  their  bullets  are  frequently  hammered 
round  with  stones,  the  practice  is  at  times  erratic,  and  the 
guns  are  also  sometimes  more  dangerous  to  the  marksman 
than  the  mark. 

The  daily  routine  of  occupations  and  amusements  is  varied 
sometimes  by  a fight,  and  more  pleasantly  by  some  one  or 
other  of  the  ceremonials  which  mark — as  in  all  nations — the 
principal  epochs  of  Tsoneca  life,  from  the  cradle  to  the 
grave.  On  the  birth  of  a child,  if  the  parents  are  rich,  i.e., 
own  plenty  of  mares  and  horses,  and  silver  ornaments,  notice 
is  immediately  given  to  the  doctor  or  wizard  of  the  tribe, 
and  to  the  cacique  and  relations.  The  doctor,  after  bleeding 
himself  with  bodkins  in  the  temple,  fore-arm,  or  leg,  gives 
the  order  for  the  erection  of  a mandil  tent,  or  pretty  house 
as  the  Indians  call  it,  and  mares  are  slaughtered,  and  a feast 
and  dance  follow,  such  as  described  in  Chapter  III.,  page  80, 
as  having  taken  place  in  the  valley  of  the  Rio  Chico.  The 


186 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


child,  shortly  after  birth,  is  smeared  over  with  damp  gypsum. 
The  mothers  are  able  to  travel  on  horseback  the  same  or 
certainly  the  subsequent  day,  with  the  infant  carried  in  a 
wicker  cradle,  and  most  tenderly  cared  for  by  both  parents. 

To  every  child  in  its  infancy  horses  and  gear  are  allotted, 
which  are  considered  thenceforth  as  the  personal  property 
of  the  boy  or  girl,  and  cannot  be  resumed  or  disposed  of  by 
the  parents.  No  ceremonial  attends  the  naming  a child, 
nor,  as  far  as  I could  see,  is  there  any  fixed  time  for  doing 
so.  The  names  most  commonly  used  are  taken,  I think, 
from  places — from  the  place  of  birth.  Patronymics  or  here- 
ditary names — except  in  rare  instances,  which  appeared  to 
be  imitations  of  Spanish  usage — are  unknown,  but  nick- 
names are  universal,  and  parents  are  frequently  known  by 
the  name  of  a child,  which  usurps  the  place  of  their  own. 

The  boys  soon  learn  the  use  of  the  weapons,  and  both 
boys  and  girls  ride  almost  before  they  can  walk : the  sons 
rarely  accompany  the  father  to  the  chase  before  ten  or  twelve 
years  of  age,  and  do  not  join  in  fights  till  they  are  about 
sixteen  years  old,  but  there  is  no  fixed  period  and  no  cere- 
monial to  mark  their  admission  to  the  state  of  manhood. 
The  attainment  of  puberty  by  the  girls  is  celebrated  as 
described  in  page  80.  From  the  age  of  nine  or  ten  they  are 
accustomed  to  help  in  household  duties  and  manufactures, 
and  about  sixteen  are  eligible  for  the  married  life,  though 
they  often  remain  for  several  years  spinsters.  Marriages 
are  always  those  of  inclination,  and  if  the  damsel  does  not 
like  the  suitor  for  her  hand,  her  parents  never  force  her  to 
comply  with  their  wishes,  although  the  match  may  be  an 
advantageous  one. 

The  usual  custom  is  for  the  bridegroom,  after  he  has 
secured  the  consent  of  his  damsel,  to  send  either  a brother 
or  an  intimate  friend  to  the  parents,  offering  so  many  mares, 
horses,  or  silver  ornaments  for  the  bride.  If  the  parents 
consider  the  match  desirable,  as  soon  after  as  circumstances 
will  permit,  the  bridegroom,  dressed  in  his  best,  and  mounted 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  187 


on  his  best  horse,  decorated  with  silver  ornaments — if  he 
possesses  any — proceeds  to  the  toldo  of  his  intended,  and 
hands  over  the  gifts.  The  parents  of  the  bride  then  return 
gifts  of  an  equal  value,  which,  however,  in  the  event  of  a 
separation  (a  rare  event),  become  the  property  of  the  bride. 
After  this  the  bride  is  escorted  by  the  bridegroom  to  his 
toldo,  amidst  the  cheers  of  his  friends  and  the  singing  of  the 
women.  Mares  are  usually  then  slaughtered  and  eaten  on 
the  spot,  great  care  being  taken  that  the  dogs  do  not 
touch  any  of  the  meat  or  offal,  as  it  is  considered  unlucky. 
The  head,  backbone,  tail,  together  with  the  heart  and  liver, 
are  taken  up  to  the  top  of  a neighbouring  hill,  as  an  offering 
to  the  Gfualichu,  or  evil  spirit.  An  Indian  is  allowed  to  have 
as  many  wives  as  he  can  support,  but  it  is  rare  to  find  a man 
with  more  than  two,  and  they  generally  only  have  one. 

On  the  death  of  a Tehuelche  all  his  horses,  dogs,  and  other 
animals  are  killed,  his  ponchos,  ornaments,  bolas,  and  all 
other  personal  belongings  are  placed  in  a heap  and  burned, 
the  widow  and  other  womankind  keeping  up  a dismal  wailing, 
and  crying  out  loud  in  the  most  melancholy  manner.  The 
meat  of  the  horses  is  distributed  amongst  the  relations  on 
both  sides  ; and  the  widow,  who  cuts  her  hair  short  in  front 
and  assumes  black  paint,  repairs,  bag  and  baggage,  to  the 
toldo  of  her  relations,  or  if  she  has  none  in  the  party,  to  the 
toido  of  the  chief. 

The  body  is  sewn  up  in  a mantle,  poncho,  or  coat  of  mail, 
if  the  deceased  possessed  one,  and  is  taken  away  by  some  of 
the  relations  and  buried  in  a sitting  posture,  its  face  to  the 
east,  a cairn  of  stones  being  erected  over  the  place,  varying 
in  size  according  to  the  wealth  and  influence  of  the  deceased. 
I have  never  seen  any  of  the  graves  described  in  Mr.  Wood’s 
work,  but  as  my  travels  as  a rule  were  confined  to  the  in- 
terior, they  may  exist  in  some  part  of  the  sea-coast ; nor  did 
the  exhumation  and  removal  of  the  body  ever  come  under  my 
notice,  and  I should  be  inclined  to  doubt  its  being  ever 
practised  by  the  Tehuelches,  inasmuch  as  it  is  a rule  amongst 


188 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


them  never  to  mention  the  name  of,  and  to  avoid  all  allusion 
to,  the  deceased,  their  idea  being  that  the  dead  should  be 
utterly  forgotten,  though  they  will  add  a stone  in  passing  to 
the  cairn  of  a distinguished  chief  or  hero.  The  death  of  a 
child  is  marked  by  a display  of  sincere  grief  on  the  part  of 
the  parents.  The  horse  it  has  been  accustomed  to  travel  on 
during  the  march  is  brought  up,  the  gear  placed  on  it,  even 
to  the  cradle,  and  the  horse,  thus  fully  caparisoned,  is 
strangled  by  means  of  lazos,  -whereas  in  all  other  ceremonies 
where  horses  are  killed  they  are  knocked  on  the  head  with 
bolas.  The  saddle-gear,  cradle,  and  all  belonging  to  the 
child  are  burned,  the  women  crying  and  singing.  The 
parents  moreover  throw  their  own  valuables  into  the  fire  to 
express  their  grief.  These  things  some  of  the  women  who 
cry  are  allowed  to  snatch  out,  as  a recompense  for  their 
services,  but  they  seldom  benefit  much.  On  the  occasion  of 
the  death  of  an  only  child  of  rich  parents,  fourteen  horses 
and  mares  were  slaughtered,  in  addition  to  the  one  it  had 
been  accustomed  to  travel  on.  Towards  evening  of  the  day 
of  the  event,  previous  to  the  burial  of  the  corpse,  a select 
party  of  old  women  marched  in  procession  round  and  round 
the  camp,  crying  and  wailing.  Gifts  were  also  sent  to  the 
bereaved  parents  by  the  chiefs  and  relations,  as  a well-meant 
effort  to  divert  their  minds  from  dwelling  on  their  loss. 

The  religion  of  the  Tehuelches  is  distinguished  from  that 
of  the  Pampas  and  Araucanians  by  an  absence  of  any  trace 
of  sun-worship,  although  the  new  moon  is  saluted,  the 
respectful  gesture  being  accompanied  by  some  low  muttered 
words  which  I never  could  manage  to  hear.  They  believe  in 
a good  and  great  Spirit,  who  according  to  the  tradition 
related  by  Casimiro  at  the  place,  created  the  Indians  and 
animals,  and  dispersed  them  from  1 God’s-hill,’  as  he  ex- 
plained the  Indian  name  of  the  down  (page  98).  I am  not  at 
all  certain  that  this  was  not  a confused  combination  of  the 
story  of  the  Creation,  as  told  by  the  missionaries,  with  his 
own  ideas.  There  is  a great  tendency  in  the  Indian  mind 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  189 


thus  to  combine  the  marvels  told  them,  or  even  to  cap  what 
they  consider  one  legend  with  another ; but  there  is  no 
doubt  that  they  do  believe  in  a good  Spirit,  though  they 
think  he  lives  ‘ careless  of  mankind.’  They  have  no  idols  or 
objects  of  worship,  nor — if  a year’s  experience  can  enable  one 
to  judge — do  they  observe  any  periodical  religious  festival, 
on  which  either  the  good  or  evil  Spirit  is  adored.  The  men- 
tion of  this  by  other  travellers  can  only  be  explained  by 
confused  accounts  which  have  attributed  Araucanian  customs 
to  the  totally  distinct  Patagonians.  The  belief  which  prompts 
all  them  religious  acts  is  that  in  the  existence  of  many  active 
and  malicious  evil  spirits  or  demons,  of  whom  the  principal 
one  is  always  on  the  watch  to  cause  mischief.  To  propitiate  or 
drive  away  this  spirit  is  the  function  of  the  wizard,  or  doctor, 
or  medicine  man,  who  combines  the  medical  and  piagical 
arts,  though  not  possessed  of  an  exclusive  faculty  for  either. 
All  sacrifices  of  mares  and  horses,  not  at  stated  times,  but 
as  occasion  requires,  such  as  a birth,  death,  &c.,  are  intended 
to  propitiate  the  Gualichu.  When  a child  hurts  itself,  the 
slaughter  of  mares  seems  to  partake  at  once  of  the  nature  of 
a thank-offering  that  the  hurt  was  no  worse,  and  a propitia- 
tion to  avert  further  harm. 

In  camp  the  Gualichu  takes  up  his  position  outside  the 
back  of  the  toldo,  watching  for  an  opportunity  to  molest  the 
inmates,  and  is  supposed  to  be  kept  quiet  by  the  spells  of  the 
doctor,  who  is  not  only  gifted  with  the  power  of  laying  the 
devil,  but  can  even  detect  him  by  sight.  I inquired  of  one 
of  the  doctors  what  he  was  like,  but  received  an  evasive 
answer ; on  which  I informed  him  that  my  devil  took  all 
sorts  of  shapes — sometimes  appearing  as  a guanaco,  ostrich, 
puma,  skunk,  or  vulture,  at  which  the  medical  man  was 
intensely  amused.  This  household  devil  is,  as  far  as  I could 
ascertain,  supposed  to  enter  into  the  different  parts  of  the 
bodies  of  people,  and  cause  sickness  which  the  doctor  is 
appealed  to  to  cure.  The  treatment  in  the  case  of  headache, 
for  instance, is  very  simple : the  doctor  takes  the  patient’s  head 


190 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


between  his  knees,  and  performing  a short  ceremony  of  incan- 
tation, shouts  in  his  ear,  exhorting  the  devil  to  come  out. 
Mr.  Clarke,  when  travelling  with  the  Indians  south  of  Santa 
Cruz,  was  treated  in  this  fashion  when  suffering  from  feverish 
headache,  and  said  that  at  the  time  it  relieved  him. 

Beside  this  Gualichu,  there  are  many  others  which 
are  supposed  to  inhabit  subterranean  dwellings,  underneath 
certain  woods  and  rivers  and  peculiarly-shaped  rocks.  I 
was  very  much  surprised  at  seeing  the  Indians  salute  these 
objects  by  placing  the  hand  to  the  head  and  muttering  an 
incantation  ; and  for  a long  time  held  to  the  belief  that  they 
were  only  expressing  admiration  for  the  Creator’s  handi- 
work ; but  subsequently  I learned  that  they  sought  thus 
to  conciliate  the  spirits  of  these  places,  reputed  to  be  the 
spirits  of  deceased  members  of  the  faculty.  These  devils’ 
powers,  however,  are  confined  to  the  districts  contiguous  to 
their  habitations. 

On  one  occasion,  a horse  about  to  run  a match  was  taken 
up  to  a neighbouring  hill  before  daylight  by  the  owner,  and 
some  secret  ceremony  was  performed  by  the  wizard.  Previous 
to  the  race  the  owner  (Waki)  came  to  me  and  advised  me  to 
put  my  stakes  on  his  horse,  as  he  had  been  made  safe  to  win 
by  mysterious  incantations  which  had  secured  the  favour  of 
the  local  Gualichu;  and,  strange  to  say,  the  horse,  which  by 
his  appearance  was  much  inferior  to  the  other,  did  win, 
thereby  establishing  a reputation  for  the  wizard  and  the 
Gualichu. 

I remember  on  one  occasion  when  riding  with  Hinchel  we 
came  in  sight  of  a peculiarly-pointed  rock,  which  he  saluted. 
I did  the  same,  at  which  he  appeared  much  pleased ; and  on 
our  subsequently  arming  at  a salina,  where  we  found  good 
salt,  much  needed  at  the  time,  he  explained  to  me  that  the 
spirit  of  the  place  had  led  us  in  that  direction.  In  the 
meeting  of  Indians  the  devils  are  supposed  to  be  driven  away 
by  the  horsemen  chasing  at  full  speed  round  and  round,  and 
firing  off  their  guns. 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  191 


The  office  of  wizard  is  not  hereditary  ; indeed  those  I met 
with  were  unmarried.  A boy  or  a gild,  if  what  we  should 
call  odd,  as  in  the  case  of  Cayuke’s  daughter,  an  old-fashioned 
and  eccentric  girl  of  thirteen,  is  considered  to  he  marked 
out  as  a wizard  ; but  the  functions,  so  far  as  directing  cere- 
monies, are  sometimes  performed  by  an  ordinary  member  of 
the  party.  The  stock  in  trade  of  the  regular  wizard  consists 
of  a few  fetishes,  or  charms,  carried  in  a bag,  carefully  con- 
cealed from  public  gaze,  and  exhibited  to  his  colleagues 
alone.  In  addition  to  these,  they  seem  to  possess  a real 
knowledge  of  simples,  although  this  is  not  confined  to  them. 
Their  professional  operations  are  never  accompanied  by 
epileptic  seizures  and  real  or  simulated  convulsions.  They, 
of  course,  are  expected  to  prognosticate  the  success  or  failure 
of  undertakings,  and  the  issue  of  sickness,  and  foretell  the 
future  generally  ; and  their  position  in  this  respect  is  a dan- 
gerous one,  as  a failure  of  their  predictions  is  frequently 
punished  with  death ; but,  to  make  up  for  this  risk,  they  are 
universally  received  with  honour  and  hospitably  entertained, 
and  are  usually  enriched  by  the  accumulation  of  presents. 
The  power  of  witchcraft  is  by  no  means  believed  to  be  con- 
fined to  them ; any  person  may  be  suspected  of  this  crime, 
and  it  is  not  an  uncommon  occurrence  for  people  when 
dying  to  lay  their  death  to  the  charge  of  some  person  by 
name.  All  the  missionaries’  instructions  did  not  prevent 
Casimiro,  after  the  death  of  either  his  mother  or  one  of  his 
wives,  from  sending  an  agent  to  kill  a woman  who,  as  the 
deceased  averred,  had  bewitched  her.  Certain  signs  and 
omens  are  superstitiously  regarded  ; one  particularly  dreaded 
is  the  cry  of  the  nightjar,  common  on  the  slopes  of  the  Cor- 
dillera, which,  if  uttered  over  a camp  or  toldo,  betokens 
sickness  or  death  to  some  of  the  inmates.  They  hold  this 
bird  in  great  veneration,  and  object  to  its  being  injured  in 
any  manner.  Another  animal  supposed  to  be  possessed  of 
magical  powers  is  a flat  toad-like  lizard,  which  is  believed 
to  lame  horses  by  mysterious  agency,  and  is  killed  whenever 


192 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


met  with.  Another  superstition  is  that  a two-headed  guanaco 
exists  in  the  south,  the  appearance  of  which  is  a forerunner 
of  sickness.  According  to  my  informant,  after  its  last  ap- 
pearance measles,  or  a similar  disease,  decimated  the  Southern 
tribe,  the  disease  having  been  propagated  by  communica- 
tion with  Punta  Arenas,  where  it  was  at  that  time  rife. 
Any  unfamiliar  object  that  they  do  not  comprehend,  as,  for 
instance,  a compass  or  a watch,  is  regarded  with  suspicion 
as  being  tenanted  by  an  evil  spirit.  Sometimes  these  objects 
are  supposed  to  bring  luck  at  play,  and  are  eagerly  sought 
for.  One  of  my  companions  was  possessed  of  a watch,  ob- 
tained in  Punta  Arenas,  and,  before  playing  cards,  he  would 
often  ask  me  to  set  it  going,  the  ticking  being  regarded  as 
the  voice  of  the  hidden  Gualichu.  My  compass  was  also  in 
constant  demand,  but  the  privilege  of  temporary  possession 
was  necessarily  restricted  to  a few  favoured  friends.  I ex- 
plained, to  the  best  of  my  power,  the  use  of  this  instrument, 
which  was  comprehended  by  many  of  them ; and  they  became 
very  fond  of  asking  me  to  point  out  the  precise  direction  of 
various  points  known  to  them,  and  were  greatly  delighted 
at  the  correctness  with  which  their  inquiries  were  generally 
satisfied.  A locket,  worn  by  me  round  my  neck,  was  also 
regarded  as  a talisman,  securing  the  wearer  from  death. 

With  all  this  superstition,  regard  for  omens,  and  belief  in 
demons,  they  by  no  means  accord  implicit  faith  and  respect 
to  the  wizards.  Nor  do  they  trust  to  their  spells  alone  in 
case  of  disease ; many  possess  an  acquaintance  with  me- 
dicinal herbs,  and  apply  them  with  good  effect.  Besides 
being  good  farriers,  they  practise  blood-letting,  not  only  on 
the  sick,  but,  like  our  grandfathers,  at  regular  seasons  have 
themselves  blooded,  believing  it  to  be  beneficial.  Casimiro 
declared  that  the  superior  health  of  the  Tehuelches,  com- 
pared with  that  of  the  colonists  or  Christians,  was  attri- 
butable to  this  practice.  They  also  understand  and  some- 
times employ  poisons,  not  to  envenom  their  weapons,  but 
for  secretly  taking  off  an  enemy.  Such  cases  are  rare,  but 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  193 

in  one,  which  came  under  my  own  observation,  beyond  all 
doubt,  death  was  caused  by  poisoning  the  inside  of  a potro 
boot,  the  wearer  of  which  had  a slight  wound  on  the  leg. 

Inquirers  into  the  Tsoneca  language  are  referred  to  the 
vocabulary  in  the  Appendix  ; but  it  is  needful  to  state  most 
distinctly  that  it  is  altogether  different  from  either  Pampa 
or  Araucanian.  Though  able  to  converse  in  Tehuelche,  I 
could  not  at  all  understand  the  Pampas  ; and  this  is  noted 
with  reference  to  statements  made  in  M.  Guinnard’s  work, 
which,  coupled  with  other  internal  evidences  already  alluded 
to,  compel  me  to  doubt  that  the  author  was  ever  in  the 
hands  of  the  real  Patagonians,  his  captors  and  masters  being 
Pampas  or  Araucanos,  whose  customs  are  well  described  by 
him. 

As  distinguished  from  these  Indians,  the  number  of  the 
pure  Tehuelches,  both  northern  and  southern,  in  Patagonia 
does  not  exceed  1,500  men,  women,  and  children,  according 
to  the  returns  of  effective  warriors  given  at  the  time  when 
the  union  of  all  the  various  parties,  combined  during  my 
journey  for  political  purposes,  enabled  me  to  compute  them 
with  exactness.  Beyond  the  two  great  divisions  into  northern 
and  southern,  the  subdivisions  of  tribes,  .so  frequently  given, 
are  imaginary,  or  arise  out  of  names  of  temporary  leaders. 
Nor  is  the  term  clan  very  appropriate  to  the  nomad  parties, 
combined  by  custom  or  often  by  chance.  The  population  is 
steadily  and  rapidly  decreasing,  and  the  inroads  of  disease 
and  ill  effects  of  liquor  are,  as  usual,  doing  the  work  of  ex- 
tirpation of  this  race. 

As  to  their  organization,  it  must  be  distinctly  understood 
that  these  Indians  owe  no  manner  of  allegiance  to  any  head 
cacique,  such  as  Calfieura,  or  any  other,  though  they  may 
agree  to  obey  one  chief,  as  for  instance,  Casimiro  ; nor  are 
they,  except  by  intermarriage  or  voluntary  association,  politi- 
cally united  with  either  Pampas  or  Araucanians.  Their 
natural  bias  is  to  independence,  and  rather  insubordinate  ideas 
of  ‘ one  man  being  as  good  as  another.’  Cuastro’s  dying 

13 


194 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


words,  ‘ I die  as  I have  lived — no  cacique  orders  me,’  aptly 
express  the  prevalent  feeling  on  this  subject.  Nevertheless, 
all  ‘ parties,’  however  small,  are,  when  travelling,  under  the 
command  of  a cacique  or  ‘ gownok,’  who  is  sometimes  also 
designated  by  the  more  endearing  epithet  of  ‘ yank,’  or 
father ; but  his  influence  is  very  frequently  confined  to 
ordering  the  march  and  chase.  Some  of  the  chiefs  are 
hereditary,  but  it  is  not  invariably  the  rule ; and  amongst 
the  northern  Indians  there  are  many  petty  chiefs,  who  are 
men  that,  having  become  possessed  of  a few  mares  and 
horses,  assume  the  title  of  cacique.  Great  etiquette  is  ob- 
served between  them  ; one  chief  being  prohibited  by  custom 
from  entering  the  toldo  of  another  unless  presents  have 
previously  been  interchanged.  Another  curious  point  of 
etiquette  is  that  a man  is  not  allowed  to  look  towards  his 
father-in-law  when  in  conversation  with  him;  this  is,  how- 
ever, not  confined  to  the  aristocracy,  hut  also  applies  to  the 
common  herd.  When  two  parties  of  Indians  are  approaching 
one  another,  and  sufficiently  near  to  distinguish  the  smoke 
of  the  hunting-fires,  a signal-fire  is  lighted,  and  a chasqui — 
called  by  the  Tehuelches  coeto — generally  some  relative  of 
the  chiefs,  is  despatched  from  either  side.  On  meeting  they 
repair  to  the  camp  of  the  most  powerful,  and,  on  arriving 
near,  more  horsemen  sally  out  and  escort  them  to  the  toldo 
of  the  chief.  On  arrival  the  new  comer  dismounts,  his  horses 
and  gear  are  taken  charge  of,  and  he  is  shown,  with  great 
formality,  to  a seat,  were  he  patiently  remains,  sometimes  for 
an  hour,  answering,  with  grave  face,  all  questions ; and  then 
delivers  any  message  he  may  be  entrusted  with.  Although 
he  may  be  wearied,  tired,  and  hungry,  he  never  moves  until 
the  formalities  are  concluded ; he  is  then  provided  with  the 
best  food  and  accommodation  his  host  is  possessed  of. 

It  is  to  be  hoped  that  the  narrated  actual  life  in  the 
toldos  will  have  enabled  the  reader  to  form  an  idea  of 
the  character  of  the  Tehuelches  more  favourable  than  that 
which — except  by  the  missionaries,  Messrs.  Hunziker  and 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  THE  TEHUELCHES.  195 


Schmid — has  usually  been  assigned  to  them.  They  certainly 
do  not  deserve  the  epithets  of  ferocious  savages,  brigands  of 
the  desert,  &c.  They  are  kindly,  good-tempered,  impulsive 
children  of  nature,  taking  great  likes  or  dislikes,  becoming 
firm  friends  or  equally  confirmed  enemies.  They  are  very 
naturally  suspicious  of  strangers,  but  especially  those  of 
Spanish  origin,  or,  as  they  term  them,  Cristianos.  Nor, 
considering  the  treatment — treacherous  cruelty  and  knavish 
robbery — experienced  by  them  at  the  hands  of  the  invaders 
and  colonists  alternately,  is  this  to  be  wondered  at. 

In  the  southern  part  of  the  country,  their  frequent  inter- 
course with  sealers  on  the  coast  has  rendered  them  favourably 
disposed  towards  Englishmen.  This  remark,  of  course,  does 
not  extend  to  the  northern  Tehuelches,  who  have  not  the 
same  opportunities. 

In  my  dealings  with  them  I always  treated  with  fair- 
ness and  consideration,  and  my  few  belongings — although 
borrowed  at  times,  according  to  their  mutual  way  of  acting 
towards  one  another — were  taken  the  greatest  care  of ; thus 
an  Indian  would  frequently  ask  to  look  at  my  arms,  and, 
after  examining  them,  would  carefully  return  them  to  me. 
During  my  whole  stay  amongst  them  I only  lost  two  articles  : 
the  first,  a flint  and  steel,  was,  I have  reason  to  believe,  stolen 
by  one  of  the  Chilians  ; the  second  was  a pair  of  ostrich  balls, 
which  were  abstracted  from  the  toldo.  The  Indians,  although 
honest  enough  as  regards  each  other,  will,  nevertheless,  not 
scruple  to  steal  from  any  one  not  belonging  to  their  party. 
Thus,  when  they  enter  the  colonies  for  trade,  they  will  pick 
up  a stray  horse  in  the  most  natural  manner  ; and  in  Santa 
Cruz,  Graviel  and  others  constantly  pilfered  iron  nails  and 
small  articles.  With  regard  to  their  truthfulness,  my  expe- 
rience was  as  follows.  In  minor  affairs  they  nearly  always 
lie,  and  will  invent  stories  for  sheer  amusement ; thus, 
Mrs.  Orkeke  came  to  me  whilst  in  Teckel  with  the  news  that 
Casimiro’s  wife  was  dead.  My  remark  was,  ‘And  a good 
riddance  too  !’  which  was  received  with  a burst  of  laughter, 


196 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


and  the  information  that  she  was  as  alive  as  ever,  only  her 
eyes  were  bad.  I could  cite  many  other  similar  instances  of 
romancing  on  the  part  of  the  Indians.  Old  Orkeke  I never 
caught  out  in  a direct  lie,  and  he  always,  when  informing 
me  about  any  subject,  added,  ‘ I do  not  lie.’  In  anything  of 
importance,  however,  such  as  guaranteeing  the  safety  of  a 
person,  they  were  very  truthful,  as  long  as  faith  was  kept 
with  them.  After  a time,  when  they  ascertained  that  I in- 
vairably  avoided  deviating  in  any  way  from  the  truth,  they 
left  off  lying  to  me  even  in  minor  matters.  This  will  serve 
to  show  that  they  are  not  of  the  treacherous  nature  assigned 
to  them  by  some  ignorant  writers.  Nor  are  they  habitually 
cruel,  even  to  slaves  or  captives.  The  Chilian  deserters  were 
always  well  housed  and  fed,  and  lent  horses  to  ride ; and 
nothing  but  their  incurably  bad  dispositions  and  constant 
plots  brought  on  them  a fate  which,  in  truth,  could  hardly 
be  thought  ill-deserved,  whereas  the  few  good  ones  of  the 
party  rose  into  high  favour. 

For  my  own  part,  I felt  far  safer  among  the  Tehuelches, 
as  long  as  they  had  no  drink  or  no  fights,  than  I subsequently 
did  in  the  Rio  Negro.  Of  course  when  they  are  drunk  their 
passions  become  unbridled  ; they  remember  old  feuds,  and  at 
times  will  fight  for  mere  fighting’s  sake.  It  is  not  necessary, 
however,  to  go  so  far  as  Patagonia  to  observe  this.  The 
finest  trait,  perhaps,  in  their  character  is  their  love  for  their 
wives  and  children  ; matrimonial  disputes  are  rare,  and  wife- 
beating unknown  ; and  the  intense  grief  with  which  the  loss 
of  a wife  is  mourned  is  certainly  not  ‘ civilised,’  for  the  widower 
will  destroy  all  his  stock  and  burn  all  his  possessions  : thus 
Paliki,  before  the  death  of  his  wife,  was  a wealthy  Indian  ; but 
when  I knew  him  he  was  poor  and  reckless,  having  destroyed 
all  his  property,  and  taken  to  gambling  and  drinking  in 
despair  at  his  loss.  Casimiro  even  declared  that  his  son  Sam 
— whom  I certainly  should  not  have  suspected  of  disinterested 
affection  for  any  human  being — had  ruined  himself,  and  be- 
come careless  of  his  life,  after  his  wife’s  death. 


MANNERS  AND  CUSTOMS  OF  TEE  TEEUELCHES.  197 


The  children  are  indulged  in  every  way,  ride  the  best 
horses,  and  are  not  corrected  for  any  misbehaviour.  I was 
always  astonished  that  the  youths  and  young  men  did  not 
grow  up  more  headstrong  and  wilful,  as  a result  of  want  of 
training.  People  who  have  no  children  of  their  own  some- 
times adopt  a little  dog,  on  which  they  lavish  their  affections, 
and  bestow  horses  and  other  valuables,  which  are-  destroyed 
in  case  of  the  owner’s  death. 

It  has  always  been  a matter  of  surprise  to  me  that  the 
missionaries  should  have  been  so  unsuccessful  in  their  efforts 
to  teach  these  children  of  nature  to  read  and  write,  for  they 
are  naturally  very  intelligent  (though  of  course  there  are  ex- 
ceptions). As  a proof  of  their  quickness  in  imitations,  with 
very  little  trouble  I taught  Hinchel’s  son  to  write  his  father’s 
name  and  those  of  two  other  Indians  in  a very  short  time.  I 
also  used  to  draw  ships  on  a board  with  a piece  of  charcoal 
for  the  children’s  amusement,  and  they  readily  copied  them. 
Hinchel  himself,  wishing  to  explain  a part  of  the  course  of 
the  Rio  Negro,  drew  out  a rough  chart  on  the  board,  showing 
the  bends  of  the  river,  which  I afterwards  found  to  be  per- 
fectly correct. 

Whilst  in  their  native  wilds,  I observed  little  immorality 
amongst  the  Indians  ; in  the  settlements,  however,  when 
debased  by  intoxication,  they  are,  no  doubt,  depraved  and 
loose  in  their  ideas.  But  it  must  be  recorded  that,  on  the 
entry  of  the  Indians  into  the  settlements  of  the  Rio  Negro, 
at  a subsequent  period,  most  of  the  young  women  and  girls 
were  left  with  the  toldos  in  Yalchita,  outside  the  Travesia, 
to  be  out  of  the  way  of  temptations.  There  are  many  Tehuel- 
che  youths  now  growing  up  who  have  the  greatest  abhorrence 
of  liquor;  and  I hope  that  in  time  this  abstinence  will  spread 
further  among  them,  for  they  possess  no  intoxicants  of  their 
own,  and  the  rum  is  an  import  from  the  Christians,  the  ill 
effects  of  which  they  are  well  able  to  discern. 

One  word  of  advice  to  the  future  traveller  may  conclude 
this  imperfect  sketch.  Never  show  distrust  of  the  Indians  ; 


198 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


be  as  free  with  your  goods  and  chattels  as  they  are  to  each 
other.  Don’t  ever  want  anything  done  for  you  ; always 
catch  and  saddle  your  own  horse.  Don’t  give  yourself  airs 
of  superiority,  as  they  do  not  understand  it — unless  you  can 
prove  yourself  better  in  some  distinct  way.  Always  be  first, 
as  you  are  not  likely  to  be  encumbered  by  a wife  or  gear,  in 
crossing  rivers,  or  any  other  difficulties ; they  will  learn  by 
degrees  to  respect  you  ; in  a word,  as  you  treat  them  so  they 
will  treat  you. 


CHAPTER  VI. 


TECKEL  TO  GEYLUM, 


Casimiro's  Household  — Carge-kaik  — Quintuhual’s  Son  — Woolkein — 
Partridges — Meeting  with  the  Araucanians — The  Cacique  Quintuhual 
— Esgel-kaik  — Araucanian  Belles  — Communication  with  Chupat 
Colony — Diplaik — Calficura’s  Declaration  of  War — Tehuelches  learn 
Fishing  — My  Indian  Relatives  — Woodland  Rambles  — An  Indian 
Paradise — The  Upper  Chupat — Cushamon — Losing  Horses — Official 
Functions — Message  from  Las  Manzanas — Blessing  the  Liquor — 
Casimiro  Intoxicated — Foyel’s  Encampment — Great  Parlemento  — 
Foyel’s  Ideas — Gatchen-kaik — Arrival  at  Geylum. 


N January  21  the  word  was  given  to  march,  and  all  the 


united  forces  of  the  Tehuelches,  numbering  200  men, 
with  the  usual  allowance  of  women  and  children,  prepared  to 
advance  to  join  the  Araucanos.  Ten  toldos,  forming  Crime’s 
party,  lingered  behind,  in  consequence  of  the  continued  sick- 
ness of  this  caciquillo,  who,  however,  sent  word  that  he  would 
follow  in  our  rear. 

All  the  hoi’ses  were  in  excellent  condition,  and  it  was  with 
great  delight  that  I saw  the  immense  cavalcade  set  out. 
Our  family  party  in  Casimiro’s  toldo  included,  besides  the 
chief  and  his  wife,  sons,  and  little  daughter  Chingook,  an 
old  brother-in-law,  Kai,  nicknamed  Chileno,  and  his  wife 
and  son  Macho  ; and  an  old  deaf  and  dumb  woman  of  most 
repulsive  aspect.  The  only  good  feature  in  Casimiro’s  cha- 
racter was  his  charity.  He  was  always  ready  to  afl’ord  an 
asylum  to  any  destitute  or  infirm  people,  and  his  toldo  was 
never  without  some  such  object  of  his  pity.  My  honourable 


200 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


position  as  secretary  and  general  referee  next  in  rank  to  the 
cacique,  scarcely  reconciled  me  to  the  exchange  of  the  orderly 
comfort  of  Mrs.  Orkeke’s  household  for  the  dignified  discom- 
fort of  my  present  quarters.  They  were  also  shared  by 
Mena,  whose  good  qualities  had  raised  him  above  his  fellow- 
Chilians.  Their  number  had  been  reduced  to  four,  Arica 
having  disappeared  whilst  hunting  near  Teckel : without 
doubt  his  quarrelsome  disposition  had  occasioned  his  death 
at  the  hands  of  some  one  whom  he  had  insulted  or  offended. 
The  route  followed  led  northwards  through  a valley  on  both 
sides  of  which  we  hunted,  and  arrived  in  the  afternoon  at  an 
encampment  called  Carge-kaik,  or  Four  Hills.  There  was 
nothing  remarkable  in  the  scenery  : the  hill-sides  on  either 
hand  were  covered  with  scrub,  and  the  summits  presented 
masses  of  rocks,  and  in  some  places  loose  boulders,  amongst 
which  numerous  armadilloes  were  basking  in  the  sun.  They 
are  easily  captured,  as  they  are  very  slow  ; but  if  they  once 
get  into  their  burrow  it  is  difficult  to  extract  them,  owing  to 
the  tenacity  with  which  they  hold  fast  to  the  soil.  They  are 
very  good  eating,  and  are  usually  cooked  in  the  shell  on  the 
fire,  the  entrails,  &c.,  being  taken  out,  and  the  cavity  filled 
with  heated  stones.  When  they  are  in  their  best  condition, 
one  leg  is  sufficient  for  a man,  as  there  is  about  an  inch  of 
yellow  fat  on  them.  Of  the  shells  the  women  make  work- 
baskets,  to  contain  then1  bodkins,  sinews,  &c.,  when  sewing, 
or  to  serve  as  colour-boxes  for  the  different  colours  when 
painting. 

The  day  following  our  arrival,  Tankelow  and  another 
Indian  were  despatched  as  messengers  to  the  party  of  Arau- 
canian  Indians,  or  Manzaneros,  supposed  to  be  encamped  a 
few  marches  distant.  During  that  night  a child  was  born, 
the  parents  of  which  were  rich,  and  accordingly  a great 
slaughter  of  mares  took  place,  the  mandil  tent  was  erected, 
and  a feast  and  dance  announced. 

Meanwhile,  about  four  p.m.,  the  chasquis  returned,  bring- 
ing with  them  an  Araucanian  Indian,  who  was  escorted  to 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLVM. 


201 


o;ar  toldo  in  due  form  amidst  a curious  crowd,  all  eager  to 
look  at  him,  while  he  preserved  a grave  and  stolid  demeanour. 
After  the  usual  ceremonious  formalities,  he  sat  down,  and  by 
means  of  an  interpreter  stated  himself  to  be  a son  of  Quin- 
tuhual,  a chief  residing  at  present  about  four  marches  to 
the  north.  His  father  had  with  much  pleasure  received  the 
courteous  message  sent  by  Casimiro,  and  it  would  give  him 
equal  gratification  to  welcome  the  Tehuelches ; but  he  signi- 
fied a desire  first  to  meet  Casimiro  alone.  This  the  latter 
monarch  did  not  appear  to  see  in  the  same  light — if  I may 
be  allowed  the  expression — as  it  seemed  to  forbode  no  good 
intentions ; but  he  replied  evasively,  and  thus  the  colloquy 
terminated. 

This  Indian  was  about  the  middle  height,  dressed  in 
coloured  ponchos,  with  a silk  handkerchief  round  his  head. 
His  features  were  regular,  with  restless  sparkling  black  eyes, 
and  complexion  about  the  same  as  that  of  the  Gauchos  of 
the  Rio  de  la  Plata.  He  wore  his  hair  cut  short,  and  his 
general  cleanly  appearance  afforded  a strong  contrast  to  the 
flowing  locks  and  paint-bedaubed  bodies  of  the  Tehuelches. 

Giving  up  my  sleeping-place  to  him,  we  soon  made  him  at 
home,  and,  after  he  had  had  some  dinner,  we  proceeded  in 
company  to  watch  the  dancers,  who  were  vigorously  stepping 
out  round  the  fire  in  front  of  the  mandil  tent.  Here  we  were 
joined  by  Jackechan,  whose  knowledge  of  the  Araucanian 
language  enabled  us  to  maintain  a conversation.  Presently, 
by  particular  request,  I joined  Golwin  (White)  and  two 
others  in  the  dance,  coming  out  in  full  costume  of  ostrich 
feathers  and  girdle  of  bells,  and  properly  painted,  to  the 
great  delight  of  the  Indians.  My  performance  elicited 
general  applause  ; and  at  last  all  retired  for  the  night,  my- 
self taking  my  saddle-gear  and  sleeping  under  a bush  near 
the  toldo. 

After  a delicious  breakfast  of  fried  fish,  cooked  most 
skilfully  by  Mena,  we  prepared  to  march  again,  the  chasqui 
bidding  us  farewell  for  the  present,  and  by  nine  a.m.  the 


202 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


whole  cavalcade  of  women  and  children  were  in  motion,  and 
the  circle  formed  for  the  hunt. 

Several  shallow  streams,  fringed  with  dwarf  beeches,  were 
crossed,  flowing  into  lagoons  or  into  the  Teckel  River,  the 
course  of  which  lay  north-east  of  our  line,  and  the  cavalcade 
of  women  struck  the  valley  occasionally  in  the  march.  Of 
the  hills  dividing  these  streams,  the  southern  side  consisted 
of  gradual  slopes  covered  with  coarse  grass,  while  the 
northern  counterslopes  were  precipitous,  and  covered  with 
loose  rocks  and  stones.  Orkeke,  in  the  previous  marches, 
had  often  informed  me  that  the  Araucanos’  country  was  very 
stony,  and  that  there  were  a great  many  armadilloes,  but 
little  other  game  ; and  this  day  guanaco  were  rarely  seen, 
but  ostriches  were  numerous  and  armadillo  abounded. 

After  crossing  several  ridges  and  glens,  we  at  length  tra- 
versed a hillocky  plain,  of  the  usual  scrub-covered  aspect, 
and  strewn  with  flint,  agate,  and  other  pebbles,  and  en- 
camped for  the  night  in  a place  called  ‘ Woolkein,’  situated 
by  the  side  of  a water-course  which  was  now  nearly  dry,  the 
water  only  remaining  in  the  deep  holes.  We  had  left  the 
canon  or  valley  of  the  river  Teckel  a few  miles  east,  from 
which  point  it  appeared  to  give  a sharp  turn  in  an  easterly 
direction. 

To  the  west  the  mountains  of  the  Cordillera  were  visible 
about  twenty  miles  distant,  while  on  the  south  were  the 
rocky  abrupt  hills  already  passed  over,  and  on  the  north  a 
range  of  rather  peaked  hills  running  west,  and  appearing  to 
slope  at  their  western  extremity  towards  the  plains  beneath 
the  Cordillera.  Next  morning,  before  the  rime  was  off  the 
pasture,  we  were  again  en  route,  and  after  a rocky  descent  of 
perhaps  fifty  feet  reached  a second  plain,  everywhere  strewn 
with  stones,  which  rendered  galloping  very  difficult  ; never- 
theless a large  herd  of  guanaco  were  enclosed,  and  numbers 
killed,  while  ostrich,  on  the  contrary,  appeared  to  be  very 
scarce.  To  my  great  surprise,  whilst  running  some  guanaco, 
two  large  partridges  got  up  from  close  to  my  horse’s  feet, 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


203 


and  flying  a short  distance  settled  again.  Partridges  had 
been  described  to  me  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Santa  Cruz, 
but  I had  never  seen  one,  and  these  were  the  first  met  with 
in  the  country.  Towards  three  in  the  afternoon  we  emerged 
from  the  stony  district  to  a plain  covered  with  sand  and 
scrub,  and  after  refreshing  ourselves  at  a rivulet,  travelled 
westward,  with  the  Cordillera  in  full  front,  till  we  turned  a 
high  cliff  which  jutted  out  from  the  grassy  slopes  in  which 
the  hills  fell  gradually  down  to  the  plains,  and  beyond  it, 
turning  again  northward,  entered  a level  plain,  at  the  far 
extremity  of  which  we  observed  with  great  contentment  the 
answering  smoke  from  the  toldos  of  the  Araucanian  Indians. 
On  the  south-west  edge  of  this  valley  the  high  beetling  cliff 
obscured  the  view  of  the  wooded  mountains,  which,  however, 
showed  out  between  the  hills  shutting  in  the  valley  we  had 
traversed  up  to  this  point.  On  the  eastern  side  rose  a range 
of  hills,  barren  and  desolate,  with  here  and  there  a single 
guanaco  in  solitary  majesty,  cropping  the  stunted  grass.  In 
front  of  us,  directly  to  the  north,  lay  a large  lagoon,  in  which 
numerous  swans  and  flamingoes  were  wading  and  swimming 
about.  Beyond  it  were  visible  the  toldos  of  the  Araucanians, 
ten  in  number. 

We  halted  near  the  head  of  the  lagoon,  under  shelter  of 
some  thick  bushes,  to  collect  our  forces,  don  our  best  ponchos 
and  silver  ornaments,  and  change  our  horses,  and  then  pro- 
ceeded slowly  to  within  about  a quarter  of  a mile  of  the 
toldos.  To  our  great  surprise  nobody  appeared  to  receive 
us  ; but  at  length  a woman  arrived  with  the  intelligence  that 
all  the  men  were  away  hunting,  but  had  been  sent  for,  and 
would  arrive  shortly. 

Our  women  meanwhile  erected  the  toldos  on  a green 
sward,  carpeted  with  strawberry  plants,  near  to  a small 
stream  which  divided  our  camp  from  that  of  the  Araucanos. 
All  dismounted  and  rested  after  the  long  journey  of  fully 
forty  miles  from  the  previous  station  ; and  in  about  half  an 
hour  the  Araucanos  appeared,  galloping  like  demons.  Then' 


204 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


women  haring  previously  brought  up  their  fresh  horses,  they 
were  in  almost  less  time  than  it  takes  to  write  it  in  the 
saddle,  and  formed  into  excellent  line,  lances  in  hand,  wait- 
ing for  us  to  go  through  the  ceremony  of  welcome.  In  about 
five  minutes  our  ranks  were  dressed,  and  the  usual  galloping, 
shouting,  and  ceremonious  greetings  gone  through.  I was 
particularly  struck  with  the  hold,  honest  bearing  of  the 
young  men  of  this  party,  who,  dressed  in  gay-coloured 
ponchos,  with  clean  linen  drawers  and  white  flannel  vests 
underneath,  presented  a most  civilised  appearance.  More 
noticeable  than  the  remainder,  who  numbered  but  twenty- 
seven  in  all,  were  four  brothers,  particularly  handsome, 
robust  men,  with  florid  complexions,  who  at  a distance, 
where  the  colour  of  their  eyes  could  not  be  distinguished, 
looked  almost  like  Europeans ; which  remark  made  to  El 
Sourdo,  who  was  my  right-hand  man  during  the  performance, 
called  forth  the  reply  in  a low  voice,  ‘ Very  much  devil  these 
Indians  ; perhaps  fight.’  That  he  could  have  entertained  the 
idea  when  we  were  at  least  ten  times  their  number,  speaks 
volumes  for  the  Araucanian  character  for  bravery. 

However,  all  passed  off  quietly,  and  a council  was  fixed 
for  the  following  day.  As  we  were  returning  to  the  toldos 
we  observed  some  of  the  Araucanians  bringing  up  a flock  of 
sheep,  and  others  a herd  of  cattle,  from  some  woods  border- 
ing the  stream,  which  flowed  to  the  northward.  On  the 
eastern  side  of  the  valley  some  four  or  five  hundred  horses 
and  mares  were  grazing  on  the  green  pasture  ; and  Hinchel 
pointed  out  to  me  with  great  glee  the  horses  and  mares — 
about  a hundred  head — owned  by  his  eldest  son,  who  had 
married  an  Araucanian  woman,  and  resided  with  them ; 
and  the  proud  father  declared  that  we  should  not  want  for 
food,  as  he  likewise  owned  cattle  and  sheep. 

Casimiro  informed  me  that  many  years  ago,  whilst  travel- 
ling northwards,  he  met  these  same  Indians  on  foot.  Their 
custom  was  to  hunt  with  large  dogs  that  they  kept  expressly 
for  the  chase,  and  dividing  the  meat  equally,  carry  it  back 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


205 


on  their  shoulders  to  the  toldos.  They  also  when  on  the 
march  loaded  themselves  with  then’  household  gear,  leaving 
bags  of  grease  hung  up  in  the  trees  for  future  use.  He  left 
them  a couple  of  mares,  from  which  part  of  their  present 
stock  is  sprung.  This  story,  however,  should  be  taken  with 
reservation,  although  it  is  perfectly  possible  that  in  some 
fight  them  horses  were  taken  from  them,  and  that  subse- 
quently, when  all  the  Indians  were  joined  together  under  the 
Cacique  Lenketrou  to  invade  the  settlements,  they  received 
a share  of  the  spoils,  and  have  since  added  to  their  stock  by 
trade. 

The  day  following  our  arrival  a council  was  held,  and  an 
interchange  of  presents  took  place.  Here  I made  the 
acquaintance  of  the  old  chief  Quintuhual,  and  presented 
him  with  a dagger.  He  was  a short,  heavily-built  man,  with 
a grave  and  indeed  solemn  expression  ; but  he  had  a bad 
name  for  getting  intoxicated  and  using  knife  or  revolver 
freely — in  fact,  running  a-muck.  He  was  of  course  a rela- 
tion— nephew,  it  was  said — of  Casimiro  ; but  notwithstand- 
ing, he  at  first  received  me  with  great  suspicion,  and  when, 
in  answer  to  his  inquiries  as  to  what  I was  and  why  I came, 
he  was  informed  that  I was  in  the  service  of  the  Cacique 
of  England,  who  wished  the  Indians  well,  but  that  I had 
visited  these  parts  for  my  own  pleasure,  he  replied  that  he 
was  not  a boy  to  be  humbugged  easily  ; but  having  instituted 
private  inquiries,  he  soon  changed  his  tone,  showing  me  the 
greatest  civility,  and  was  never  tired  of  asking  questions 
about  England  and  Englishmen. 

Here  the  letters  forwarded  some  time  previously,  which 
we  had  thought  were  by  this  time  arrived  at  Patagones,  were 
handed  back  to  us.  They  had  been  forwarded  to  Foyel’s* 
people,  but  owing  to  those  sent  by  me  for  England  being 
written  on  pink  note-paper,  they  were  returned,  the  Indians 
considering  the  colour  of  the  paper  to  denote  war. 

Quintuhual  had  with  him  a Valdivian  or  Chilote  named 
* Also  called  Poyel. 


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AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


Juan  Antonio,  who  acted  as  interpreter.  This  little  man,  who 
had  originally  come  from  what  he  called  his  ‘ Pago,’  some- 
where in  the  vicinity  of  Porto  Montt,  bringing  liquor  to  trade 
with  the  Indians,  had  concluded  to  remain  with  them,  esteem- 
ing himself  to  be  better  off  as  a poor  man  in  the  Pampas  in 
company  with  Indians,  than  in  the  like  station  in  the  settle- 
ments. He  of  course  spoke  the  Araucanian  language,  which 
is  generally  used  in  Valdivia,  but  was  conversant  with  the 
Spanish  tongue.  Off  his  horse  he  was  a miserable  little 
specimen  of  a man,  and  though  tolerated  by  Quintuhual,  was 
looked  upon  as  what  Spaniards  term  ‘ Infeliz,’  or  unfortunate 
one. 

After  a while  the  council  broke  up,  but  Crime  arriving 
with  the  ten  expected  toldos,  was  resumed  the  following 
day ; Quintuhual  finally  agreeing  to  unite  his  party  with 
the  Tehuelches,  and  proceed  under  Casimiro’s  banner  to  Las 
Manzanas. 

The  Chilote  Juan  Antonio  paid  us  a visit  in  the  evening, 
and  informed  us  that  the  toldos  had  been  several  months  in 
this  place,  which  was  named  Esgel-kaik  ; the  men  having 
been  absent  hunting,  first  the  young  guanaco,  and  afterwards 
catching  and  taming  cattle  in  the  Cordillera. 

By  his  account  these  Indians  were  great  adepts  with  the 
lazo,  and  would  gallop  through  the  forests  in  chase  of 
animals  in  the  most  wonderful  manner  ; one  man  only  being 
required  to  catch  and  secure  an  animal,  and  then  proceeding 
to  capture  another.  How  different  from  our  dreadful  failure, 
where  seven  men  could  not  lazo  one  animal ! 

He  further  stated  that  with  Foyel’s  Indians,  who  were 
distant  a few  marches  to  the  north,  eight  Valdivians  had  for 
the  last  two  years  been  employed  catching  cattle,  and  having 
now  succeeded  in  getting  together  a herd  of  about  eighty 
head,  intended  shortly  to  return  to  Valdivia. 

The  third  day  after  our  arrival  I visited  the  toldos  of  our 
new  allies ; and  while  talking  to  one  of  the  principal  Indians, 
named  Malakou,  who  could  speak  a little  Spanish,  was  asked 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


207 


if  I could  repair  firearms,  and  one  or  two  very  antique  speci- 
mens of  flint  pistols  and  blunderbusses  were  produced,  the 
locks  of  which  were  wood-bound.  Half  an  hour  served  to 
set  these  to  rights,  at  which  the  owners  were  much  delighted, 
and  offered  me  tobacco,  &c.,  which  however  I refused,  taking 
instead  a hide  to  make  a small  lazo. 

After  bidding,  not  adieu,  but  au  revoir,  to  my  new  friends, 
whilst  strolling  back  I was  called  into  a toldo  where  four 
women  were  sitting  sewing  mantles.  One,  who  appeared  to 
be  of  the  Pampa  tribe,  old  and  ugly,  spoke  Spanish,  and 
stated  that  she  was  formerly  in  the  Rio  Negro  with  the 
cacique  Chingoli.  She  acted  as  spokeswoman  for  the 
others,  three  tall,  buxom  lasses,  daughters  of  a brother  of 
Quintuhual,  who  was  Capitanejo  of  the  party.  They  were 
gaily  dressed  in  variegated  ponchos,  with  silk  handkerchiefs 
bound  round  their  fine  glossy  hair,  which  was  plaited  into 
two  long  tails,  and  set  off  their  clear,  fresh  complexions 
charmingly.  The  first  question  they  asked  me  was  where  I 
came  from.  On  answering,  ‘ From  the  direction  in  which  the 
sun  rises,’  they  asked  if  it  wasn’t  very  hot  there.  They  then 
asked  if  I had  ever  been  above  the  sky ; if  I had  not  been 
dead  one  time  and  come  to  life  again ; whether  Casimiro 
had  not  been  dead  and  come  back  again,  and  various  other 
questions  of  the  same  description. 

After  satisfying  their  curiosity  to  the  best  of  my  ability, 
and  smoking  a pipe,  I received  a message  by  Juan  Antonio 
that  Quintuhual  wanted  to  see  me  in  his  toldo.  Proceeding 
thither,  I was  shown  to  a seat  on  a poncho,  and  discoursed 
with  the  old  chief  for  half  an  hour  ; at  the  end  of  which  he 
made  me  a present  of  a ‘jurga,’  or,  as  the  Tehuelches  term 
it,  ‘ lechu,’  a sort  of  blanket  made  by  their  women,  similar  to 
the  poncho,  except,  instead  of  two  parts  with  an  opening  for 
the  head  to  pass  through,  it  consists  of  an  entire  piece.  It 
was  perfectly  new,  having  been  just  completed  by  his 
daughters. 

After  a good  dinner  we  adjourned  to  see  the  races,  a great 


208 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


match  being  on  between  the  two  tribes.  The  course  was 
about  four  miles  ; and  the  race  resulted  in  a victory  for  the 
Tebuelcbes.  Both  sides  had  backed  their  favourites  heavily  ; 
and  as  on  this  occasion  the  ladies  took  a prominent  share  in 
the  betting,  the  Tehuelches  were  in  great  glee,  having  won 
from  the  fair  Araucanians  many  valuable  mandils  and  lechus. 
In  the  evening  a grand  feast  took  place,  with  a mandil  tent 
and  dance. 

Near  this  place  grew  a quantity  of  the  wild  potatoes,  and 
the  women  used  to  start  early  in  the  morning  and  come  back 
towards  evening  with  their  horses  loaded.  The  tubers  were 
the  largest  I had  seen,  and  closely  resembled  the  sweet 
potato  in  flavour.  The  usual  way  of  cooking  them  was 
boiling  in  a pot,  a sod  of  earth  being  placed  over  all  to  keep 
the  steam  in. 

We  made  a stay  of  eight  days  in  Esgel-kaik,  amusing  our- 
selves by  racing,  visiting  the  Araucanos,  and  passing  a very 
pleasant  time,  the  only  drawback  being  the  illness  of  Crime, 
who  grew  gradually  worse. 

The  day  before  our  departure,  Jackechan  and  El  Sourdo 
intimated  that,  as  they  feared  a disturbance,  and  wished  to 
keep  clear  of  any  fight,  they  would  not  accompany  us  to  Las 
Manzanas,  but  purposed  to  proceed  in  the  direction  of 
Chupat,  and  send  in  a messenger  to  the  Welsh  colony.  So  I 
at  once  took  the  opportunity  of  forwarding  a letter  to  Mr. 
Lewis  Jones,  requesting  certain  supplies  of  yerba,  tobacco, 
and  sugar. 

On  February  5th  the  whole  camp  broke  up,  Jackechan  and 
two  toldos  marching  to  the  north-east,  and  the  remainder, 
who  now  formed  an  extensive  train,  marching  almost  due 
north.  Before  leaving,  Jackechan  sent  one  of  his  wives  and 
his  youngest  son,  who  was  remarkably  attached  to  me,  to 
our  toldo,  to  be  under  the  charge  of  her  father,  Kai  Chileno. 
El  Sourdo  had  pressed  me  to  go  with  their  small  party,  and 
for  some  time  I wavered,  but  thought  it  best  to  stick  to  Ca- 
simiro,  and  pay  a visit  to  Cheoeque,  and  the  much-praised 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


209 


Manzanas,  where  the  Indians  anticipated  finding  plenty  of 
fruit  and  plenty  of  drink.  After  leaving  Esgel,  the  character 
of  the  country  changed.  We  were  no  longer  traversing 
pampas,  with  then’  dreary  monotony,  but  journeyed  through 
level  valleys  of  two  or  three  miles  in  extent,  watered  by  rivu- 
lets fringed  with  stunted  trees,  and  abounding  with  game. 
The  general  line  of  the  dividing  hills — which  were  round 
downs  and  occasionally  broken  and  waterworn  cliffs — was 
from  east  to  west,  seeming  as  if  they  were  thrown  off  as 
spurs  from  the  Cordillera,  from  which,  however,  their 
western  bases  were  divided  by  a valley  often  narrowing  to  a 
glen,  down  which  flowed  a stream  in  a northward  course. 
Towards  evening  a halt  was  made  at  the  side  of  a stream 
where  there  was  sufficient  pasture  for  the  horses,  and  it  was 
an  amusing  sight  to  watch  the  long  line  of  women  winding 
down  the  hills  in  the  distance,  like  a flock  of  ants  ; the 
Araucanians  driving  their  cattle  and  mares  separate  from 
our  party,  and  their  sheep  bringing  up  the  rear  by  slow 
marches  under  charge  of  some  lads. 

Early  the  following  morning  the  camp  was  struck,  and 
after  crossing  a hill  directly  above  the  encampment,  which  was 
covered  with  rank  high  grass,  we  descended  the  northward 
slope  to  a wild,  barren-looking  plain,  at  the  northern  side  of 
which,  near  to  a low  range  of  hills,  some  trees  and  a silver 
line  marked  the  course  of  a river  flowing  from  the  Cordillera, 
the  mountains  of  which  rose  to  a height  of  2,000  or  3,000 
feet,  wooded  nearly  to  the  summits,  and  their  crest  glitter- 
ing with  occasional  patches  of  snow  that  had  defied  the 
power  of  the  summer  sun.  Traversing  this  plain,  which  was 
dotted  with  barberry  and  other  bushes,  and  varied  here  and 
there  by  small  hummocky  ridges,  we  closed  the  hunting 
circle  by  the  banks  of  the  stream,  a few  miles  distant  from 
the  Cordillera.  Here,  in  different  parties,  the  usual  fires 
were  lit,  and  the  hunting  meal  discussed,  after  which  we 
proceeded  to  the  toldos.  The  Araucanians  had  pitched 
theirs  on  the  southern  bank  of  the  river,  amongst  some 

14 


210 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


clumps  of  trees  ; whilst  those  of  the  Tehuelches  were  situated 
on  the  northern  bank,  the  river  dividing  the  two  villages. 
Westward  from  our  encampment  the  barren  plain  was  suc- 
ceeded by  a wide  level  of  grass,  reaching  to  the  base  of  the 
mountains,  some  two  miles  distant ; but  higher  up  the 
course  of  the  river,  which  trended  to  the  north,  the  plain 
appeared  to  resume  its  barren  and  stony  aspect,  with  here 
and  there  a dry  lagoon,  until  the  slope  of  the  mountains  was 
reached,  and  detached  belts  of  trees  formed  the  commence- 
ment of  the  forest.  On  the  southern  side  of  the  river  the 
pasture  was  not  very  abundant ; nevertheless  there  was 
sufficient  for  the  horses,  cattle,  and  sheep  of  our  allies  to 
graze  upon. 

After  the  usual  stable  drill  most  of  us  bathed  in  the 
stream,  which,  although  nowhere  of  great  depth,  had  pools 
at  intervals  suited  for  bathing  ; but  the  water  was  icy  cold. 
The  day  following  our  arrival  at  this  camp,  which  was  named 
Diplaik,  a birthday  feast  took  place  in  the  Araucanian 
toldos,  to  which  most  of  us  were  invited,  the  usual  tent  being 
erected  and  a dance  held  in  the  evening,  and  the  feast  and 
dance  were  kept  up  for  two  days  and  nights,  at  the  end  of 
which  a messenger  arrived  from  Foyel  to  say  that  Calfi- 
cura,  the  chief  of  the  Indians  encamped  at  the  Salinas 
north  of  the  Rio  Negro,  near  Bahia  Blanca,  was  going  to 
make  war  on  Buenos  Ayres,  the  reason  assigned  being  the 
murder  of  one  of  his  relations  by  the  Christians  ; he  there- 
fore desired  the  Araucanians  and  Tehuelches  to  join  with 
him  in  the  inroad.  His  literal  message  was  as  follows  : 
‘ My  horse  is  ready,  my  foot  is  in  the  stirrup,  my  lance  is  in 
my  hand,  and  I go  to  make  war  against  these  Christians, 
who  tire  me  out  with  their  falseness.’ 

A parlemento  was  called,  and  the  chiefs  deliberated  for 
some  time,  but  in  the  end  determined  to  have  nothing  to  do 
with  the  affair ; so  a message  was  sent  to  the  effect  that  he 
might  do  as  he  pleased,  but  that  they  wished  to  maintain 
peace. 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


211 


We  remained  some  days  in  Diplaik,  during  which  several 
races  were  run,  resulting  on  this  occasion  in  favour  of  the 
horses  of  the  Araucanians,  who  won  many  horses  and  mares 
from  their  neighbours. 

The  international  sports  were  diversified  by  a cock  fight 
between  Orkeke's  bird,  and  one  belonging  to  an  Araucanian. 
My  assistance  was  requested  to  sharpen  the  spurs,  and  my 
friends  were  much  astonished  at  my  indignant  refusal  to 
have  anything  to  do  with  such  a proceeding.  The  Araucanian 
owner  of  the  cock  had  also  a hen  which,  during  the  march, 
sat  upon  a clutch  of  eggs  and  successfully  reared  her  brood 
of  six  chickens,  the  hen,  nest,  and  all  being  carefully  trans- 
ported on  horseback,  and  Dame  Partlet  seeming  quite  as 
much  at  home  in  the  saddle  as  any  Indian  mother  with  her 
nursling  carried  in  the  cradle  behind  her. 

In  the  dry  lagoons  on  the  western  side  of  the  valley  the 
women,  and  indeed  sometimes  the  men,  were  frequently  en- 
gaged in  grubbing  up  an  edible  root  which  grew  in  large  quan- 
tities. The  leaf  of  the  plant  is  very  minute,  and  the  root, 
which  is  found  about  a foot  below  the  surface,  varies  in  length 
from  one  to  three  inches : it  is  quite  white,  and  about  a quarter 
of  an  inch  in  diameter ; when  raw  its  taste  resembles  that  of 
a chestnut,  but  is  rather  sweeter.  The  Indians  boil  it  and 
drink  the  water,  which  is  very  sweet.  During  the  last  two 
days  of  our  stay  we  subsisted  entirely  on  this  food  and  fish 
caught  in  the  stream,  as  meat  was  not  obtainable.  Some  of 
the  Tehuelches  were  here  induced  for  the  first  time  to  taste 
the  fish  on  which  Casimiro,  Mena,  and  myself  were  regaling, 
and  some  of  them  took  a great  liking  to  it,  and  borrowing 
my  lines  and  hooks  were  soon  sitting  on  the  hank  waiting 
patiently  for  a bite.  They  caught  several,  and  towards 
evening  returned  with  my  lines  and  a share  of  the  fish  for  us, 
which  we  did  not  require.  As  I had  plenty  of  hooks,  these 
ingenious  savages  soon  made  lines  for  themselves  out  of 
twisted  ostrich  sinews,  and  may,  for  all  I know,  at  the  present 
time  he  occupied  in  fishing.  The  fact  that  none  of  these 


212 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


Tehuelckes  would  before  this  touch  the  fish  caught  by  me, 
and  even  expressed  great  disgust  at  the  idea,  is  worthy  of 
note,  as  it  has  been  stated  that  on  the  coast  they  catch  and 
eat  sea  fish,  which  could  only  be  alleged  by  persons  ignorant 
of  their  real  habits  of  life.* 

On  the  12th  we  marched ; the  cause  of  our  detention  for 
the  two  extra  days  being  the  continued  sickness  of  Crime, 
who,  however,  at  length  determined  to  make  an  effort  and 
proceed,  although  barely  able  to  sit  on  his  horse.  The 
women  followed,  more  or  less,  the  valley  of  the  river,  whilst 
the  hunters  ranged  over  the  hills,  which  on  the  western  side 
were  in  most  parts  free  from  rock  and  stones  and  abounded 
with  ostriches.  During  the  journey  I came  suddenly  on  two 
wild  cats,  one  of  which  my  dog  attacked  and  killed,  and  the 
other  fell  a victim  to  my  bolas.  These  were  of  the  species 
common  in  the  provinces  of  La  Plata,  and  especially  in  the 
islands  of  the  Parana.  Towards  evening  we  came  on  another 
small  stream  flowing  into  the  main  river,  into  the  plain  of 
which  we  subsequently  descended  and  found  the  toldos 
already  pitched,  literally  ‘sub  tegmine  fagi.’  During  this 
day’s  ride,  happening  to  be  in  the  same  part  of  the  circle  as 
the  Araucanians,  we  cooked  our  dinners  in  company  and 
rode  home  together.  On  the  way  Quintuhual’s  eldest  son, 
with  whom  I had  always  had  very  friendly  relations,  said 
that  he  desired  to  recognise  me  as  his  brother.  So  we 
accordingly  joined  hands,  and  riding  together  formally  de- 
clared that  we  were  as  brothers,  and  would  always  remember 
the  duties  of  our  relationship  and  assist  each  other,  if  needs 
be,  in  whatever  part  of  the  world  we  might  he  placed.  All 
this  was  very  satisfactory,  and  it  may  be  interesting  to  the 
reader  to  know  that  my  sisters  and  cousins  were  the  good- 
looking  girls  who  had  asked  such  curious  questions  at  Esgel, 
and  with  whom,  though  we  could  not  understand  each  other’s 
language,  I had  always  kept  up  a laughing  acquaintance, 
thereby  arousing  considerable  jealousy  in  the  bosoms  of  my 
* Cf.  Guinnard,  ‘Three  Years’  Slavery,’  p.  73. 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


213 


Tehuelche  friends.  The  gloriously  warm  weather,  which,  for 
a wonder,  continued  during  our  stay  at  Lilly-haik,  as  this 
station  was  named,  rendered  our  residence  there  most  en- 
joyable, and  we  revelled  in  the  simple  pleasures  of  the 
woods;  sometimes  three  or  four  of  us  would  go  across  the 
brook,  and  traversing  a plain  occupied  by  the  horses  and 
cattle,  search  for  strawberries  amongst  the  ravines  of  the 
neighbouring  mountains,  or  climb  the  tall  trees  and  gather 
the  yellow  insipid  fungus  adhering  to  the  branches,  or  lie 
down  amongst  the  wild  violets  and  enjoy  the  dolce  far  niente. 
These  Indian  children  of  nature  showed  themselves  as 
thoroughly  able  to  appreciate  the  idleness  of  gathering  fruit 
and  flowers  and  roaming  in  the  woods  as  school  children  on 
a holiday  ramble.  On  one  occasion  Casimiro  and  several 
others  proceeded  in  search  of  wood  wherewith  to  construct 
saddles,  and  we  felled  several  fine  trees,  selecting  and  cutting 
off  suitable  pieces  of  timber.  It  was  hard  work  with  blunt 
axes,  but  Indians  are  indefatigable  when  they  once  com- 
mence a task.  After  my  spell  at  the  axe  I wandered  off  with 
a companion  into  the  thicker  forest  in  search  of  fungus  to 
make  tinder.  Of  this  we  found  little,  but  thirst  soon  made  us 
seek  for  water,  and  discover  a delicious  ice-cold  rivulet,  em- 
bowered with  currant  bushes  bearing  ripe  fruit.  Here  we 
remained  a short  time  smoking  and  picking  currants,  recum- 
bent on  the  mossy  turf,  till  a shout  in  the  distance  warned  us 
that  our  companions  were  returning.  On  our  way  home  we 
killed  one  of  the  flat  toad-like  lizards  which  the  Indians  regard 
as  devilish  ; we  also  caught  a young  skunk,  which  Casimiro 
wished  to  keep  as  a pet  for  the  children,  but  at  my  instance 
let  it  go  and  enjoy  the  delights  of  freedom.  ‘ Fancy  a tame 
skunk ! ’ some  may  exclaim  ; but  in  Hinchel’s  toldo  there  were 
two  skunks  which,  perfectly  tame  and  as  playful  as  kittens, 
ran  about  everywhere,  never  using  their  offensive  powers,  and 
sometimes  getting  lost  for  an  hour  or  two  caused  a dreadful 
outcry  to  be  raised  by  the  children  until  they  were  found. 

The  hill  slopes  were  a garden  of  calceolarias,  alyssum,  tiny 


214 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


wild  geraniums,  and  other  flowers  unknown  to  me.  Amongst 
them  were  two  magnificent  creepers,  one  resembling  a vine, 
with  rich  violet  trumpet-shaped  flowers,  and  another  dis- 
playing gorgeous  circular  orange  blossoms,  with  black  lines 
radiating,  like  the  spokes  of  a wheel,  from  the  centre.  I 
looked  in  vain  for  seeds,  but  there  were  none  mature,  so 
contented  myself  with  plucking  a flower,  which  was  sub- 
sequently lost  with  other  specimens. 

A disagreeable  incident  here  gave  me  an  opportunity  of 
observing  the  disposition  of  the  Araucanians  to  enslave  and 
illtreat  any  unhappy  ‘ Cristiano  ’ that  they  can  either  kidnap 
or  purchase.  One  of  the  Chilians,  after  more  than  once 
removing  from  one  Tehuelche  toldo  to  another,  listened  to 
the  delusive  promises  of  an  Araucanian,  and  deserted  his  old 
protectors  rather  than  masters.  He  soon  found  that  he  had 
exchanged  an  easy  berth  for  real  slavery.  One  day  he 
besought  me  to  interfere  to  protect  him  from  the  cruelty  of 
his  master,  who  was  urging  him  with  his  whip  to  continue 
his  labour  of  wood-felling.  He  complained  that  he  was 
worked  all  day,  and  scantily  fed,  and  obliged  to  sleep  outside 
the  toldo ; very  different  from  his  life  amongst  the  Pata- 
gonians, when  food,  shelter,  and  a horse  to  ride  were 
always  his  lot.  At  my  intercession  Quintuhual  took  him 
into  his  service  to  protect  him,  for  no  Tehuelche  would  re- 
ceive him ; but  he  was  afterwards  reported  to  have  been 
killed  by  his  quondam  master,  as  a punishment  for  his 
desertion. 

During  our  stay  great  gambling  with  cards  was  carried  on 
amongst  some  of  the  party ; and  Casimiro  and  Hinchel 
worked  most  assiduously  constructing  saddles,  which  when 
finished  they  were  in  as  great  haste  to  gamble  away.  A 
wedding  also  varied  the  proceedings  in  this  place ; and 
another  little  incident,  in  the  shape  of  a separation  by  mutual 
consent  of  an  Araucanian  husband  and  Tehuelche  wife,  gave 
the  old  ladies  subject  for  gossip ; but  a reconciliation  was 
soon  after  effected. 


TECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


215 


On  the  16th  of  February  we  left  Lilly-haik,  and  bid 
adieu  to  the  pleasant  river  and  the  sylvan  delights  of  this 
Paradise,  as  it  seemed  to  us,  with  its  flowery  shades.  As  we 
ascended  the  northern  declivity  of  the  high  ground  bounding 
the  valley,  I halted  to  take  a farewell  look ; and  nowhere 
has  a more  beautiful  scene  presented  itself  to  my  gaze.  The 
valley  narrowed  as  it  curved  to  the  west,  and  at  its  head, 
through  a gigantic  cleft,  the  perpendicular  walls  of  which 
rose  several  hundred  feet,  the  waters  of  the  river  issued  from 
their  mountain  cradle.  So  deep  was  the  gloom  of  this  gorge, 
that  it  was  impenetrable  to  even  Indian  eyes,  and  the  river 
seemed  to  flow  into  the  sunlight  out  of  unknown  darkness. 
Above,  on  either  hand,  the  precipitous  cliffs  sloped  upwards 
into  high  mountains  clothed  with  a rich  mantle  of  the  dark 
green,  cedar-like  foliage  of  the  beech  forests  ; and  between 
their  summits  might  be  discerned  the  dazzling  peaks  of  far- 
distant  loftier  mountains  crowned  with  perpetual  snow. 

Turning  our  backs  upon  this  lovely  scene,  we  crossed  a 
remarkable  succession  of  barren  and  stony  terraces  or 
benches  of  curiously  irregular  formation,  the  terraces  run- 
ning in  different  directions,  and  presenting  no  parallel  lines 
to  indicate  any  uniform  action  of  water  ; the  irregular  slopes 
and  level  surfaces  resembling  a complication  of  gigantic 
steps.  We  at  length  descended  to  a plain  bordering  a river, 
which  all  the  Indians  agreed  in  declaring  to  be  the  main 
branch  of  the  Chupat.  The  banks  on  the  southern  side  were 
remarkable  for  being  fringed  with  a species  of  pampas  grass, 
while  on  the  northern  side  grew  a few  trees,  near  which  the 
toldos  were  pitched. 

The  river  was  about  forty  yards  in  width,  and  easily 
fordable  in  most  places,  although  there  were  deep  reaches 
where  a horse  had  to  swim.  The  foremost  party  of  the 
hunters  crossed  first,  and  some,  either  not  knowing  or  care- 
less of  the  fords,  enjoyed  a bathe,  swimming  alongside  their 
horses.  By  eventide  all  our  party,  women  and  baggage,  had 
arrived.  A few  days’  halt  was  occasioned  in  this  place, 


216 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


named  Chupatcush,  by  the  continued  illness  of  the  cacique 
Crime.  We  hunted  in  all  the  surrounding  country,  which 
presented  no  very  remarkable  features.  Down  river,  or  to 
speak  more  correctly  to  the  eastward,  after  passing  a range 
of  hills  of  the  usual  description,  covered  with  short  tufty 
grass,  interspersed  with  shrubs,  through  which  the  river 
forces  its  way  in  a succession  of  narrow  gorges,  a large 
plain  opened  out,  which  extended  for  perhaps  nine  miles  on 
each  side,  scantily  covered  with  grass,  excepting  towards  the 
banks  of  the  river,  where  the  pasture  was  luxuriant. 

A subsequent  comparison  of  the  observations  made  by 
Welsh  settlers  as  to  its  lower  course  with  my  own,  aided  by 
Indian  accounts,  enables  me  to  state  that  the  Chupat  river 
is  characterised  throughout  its  course  by  the  narrow  gorge- 
like cuttings  alternating  with  similar  wide  plains,  all  of  which 
are  suitable  for  cultivation.  Besides  the  Sengel,  which  is 
doubtless  one  of  its  main  feeders,  other  streams  occurring  in 
our  journey  had  also  been  described  as  tributaries  of  the 
Chupat,  and  by  their  direction  of  course  it  would  appear 
that  thejr  waters,  if  they  reach  the  sea,  must  flow  into  this 
river ; but  it  seems  to  me  difficult  to  understand  how,  if  the 
Chupat  receives  the  drainage  of  so  large  an  area  of  country, 
its  stream  near  the  mouth,  as  described  both  by  Indians  and 
settlers,  can  be  of  such  small  dimensions.  It  is,  therefore, 
probable  that  some,  if  not  most,  of  the  lesser  rivers  lose 
themselves  in  lagoons  or  swamps  in  the  central  districts,  and 
the  reader  must  be  pleased  to  remember  that  the  courses  of 
these  rivers,  as  indicated  on  the  map,  are  not  in  all  cases 
laid  down  from  my  own  observation,  but  partly  from  Indian 
description  and  partly  from  an  already  existing  map,  probably 
compiled  from  similar  data. 

To  the  westward  plains  occur  at  intervals  apparently  until 
the  river  debouches  from  the  ravines  of  the  high  mountains 
of  the  Andes,  about  twelve  miles  from  the  encampment.  At 
this  point  the  stream  flows  from  the  northward,  and  the 
Indians  informed  me  has  its  source  in  a large  lake,  most 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


217 


probably  Nahuel-huapi.  The  pasture  in  the  immediate 
vicinity  of  the  camp  was  scanty,  having  apparently  been 
recently  burned,  but  the  soil  was  of  a rich  alluvial  description. 
In  the  chase  the  most  remarkable  thing  observed  was  the 
abundance  of  armadilloes,  one  hunter  frequently  bringing  in 
two  or  three.  Fish  also  were  abundant  in  the  river,  and 
averaged  a larger  size  than  those  previously  caught. 

On  February  18th  smoke  was  observed  to  the  northward, 
not  far  distant,  and  towards  evening  a chasqui  arrived, 
bringing  with  him  a couple  of  bottles  of  liquor  for  Quintuh.ua!, 
as  well  as  news  that  things  were  going  on  well  amongst 
Foyel’s  people  ; and  on  the  21st  we  again  marched  over  a 
high  plateau  broken  by  numerous  irregular  ravines  which 
appeared  to  have  been  swept  by  an  inundation.  High 
isolated  cliffs  stood  up  as  though  the  waters  had  washed 
round  them  and  swept  away  the  intervening  soil,  leaving 
their  water-worn  faces  marked  with  the  indelible  record  of 
the  floods,  as  plainly  as  the  torn  and  blasted  rocks  in  the 
southern  districts  bore  the  traces  of  volcanic  fires.  At  last 
a more  unbroken  plain  terminated  suddenly  in  a shelving 
descent  of  300  to  400  feet,  the  wall  of  a chasm  covered  with 
grass  and  shrubs  interspersed  with  scattered  boulders,  down 
which  we  made  our  way,  encajnping  near  the  base,  where 
a beautiful  spring  gushed  from  the  side.  The  bottom  of  the 
canon,  which  was  nearly  half  a mile  in  width,  contained 
a watercourse,  the  bed  of  which  was  dry  at  this  season, 
except  a few  pools  of  stagnant  water  unsuitable  for  drinking. 

It  was  intended  to  despatch  messengers  from  this  place, 
which  was  called  Cushamon,  to  Foyel,  and  also  Cheoeque, 
the  chief  of  Las  Manzanas,  warning  him  of  our  near  ap- 
proach ; and  accordingly,  after  our  arrival  in  camp,  I wrote 
a letter  to  the  said  chieftain > at  the  dictation  of  Casimiro, 
which  in  well-rounded  periods  and  with  much  complimentary 
verbiage  explained  the  fact  and  reasons  of  our  having  united 
all  the  Indians  and  inviting  their  co-operation. 

The  following  morning,  after  the  letter  had  been  read  and 


218 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


explained  to  the  assembled  caciques,  the  two  messengers 
(sons  of  caciques)  appeared  with  two  horses  each,  and  after 
receiving  some  verbal  injunctions,  started  on  their  journey, 
amidst  the  bowlings  of  a few  old  women  and  a blast  from  the 
cornet.  The  remainder  of  us,  who  had  mounted,  to  add  to 
the  pomp  and  ceremony  of  the  occasion,  went  out  hunting, 
some  following  the  ravine  in  an  easterly  direction,  which, 
penetrating  high  pampas,  opened  into  a plain  containing  a 
lagoon  fed  by  the  waters  of  the  brook,  whilst  others  encircled 
the  high  pampas  above.  Hinchel,  whom  I accompanied  on 
this  occasion,  pointed  out  to  me  several  small  holes  with 
little  mounds  of  earth  and  rubbish  at  the  mouth,  which  he 
asserted  to  be  the  abodes  of  snakes,  but  no  occupants  were 
visible  outside.  He  described  the  snakes  as  dark  in  colour, 
about  two  feet  six  inches  long,  and  perfectly  harmless, 
adding  that  they  would  be  good  to  eat,  which  facts  were 
subsequently  corroborated  by  Casimiro. 

One  of  the  troubles  of  pampa  life  is  occasionally  losing 
one’s  horses,  as  was  my  case  in  this  place,  and  I spent  one 
entire  day  in  search  before  I recovered  them,  as  they  had 
strayed  in  company  with  a troop  of  mares  far  up  the  valley, 
which  here  divided  into  two  branches,  opening  into  watered 
grassy  plains  extending  to  the  Cordillera.  As  there  were 
horse  tracks  up  both  valleys,  according  to  the  usual  law  of 
contrariety  I took  the  wrong  one  at  first  and  had  a long 
gallop  for  nothing.  At  any  time  it  is  troublesome  to  have  to 
look  through  about  two  thousand  horses  all  unmarked,  and 
many  of  the  same  colour,  and  perhaps  resembling  those 
belonging  to  the  perplexed  searcher.  An  Indian,  however, 
with  his  natural  quickness  of  sight,  will  distinguish  his  own 
horses  at  a great  distance  amongst  a hundred  others.  It  has 
been  already  said  that  in  this  roving  life  all  must  look  after 
their  own  horses,  for  Indians  do  not  understand  another 
person  doing  it  for  them,  unless  he  be  a son  or  relation,  and 
in  all  cases  when  preparing  for  the  march  every  one  is 
expected  to  find  and  bring  up  his  own. 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


219 


During  our  stay  (until  the  28th)  in  this  encampment,  the 
cold  winds  again  set  in,  and  snow  fell  on  one  occasion,  hut 
not  in  great  quantity,  and  we  were  all  very  glad  at  length  to 
get  the  order  to  march,  and  proceeded  in  joyous  expectation 
of  shortly  meeting  the  chasquis  with  news  from  the  other 
Indians.  By  this  time  the  young  guanaco  had  grown  to 
considerable  size  and  afforded  a lengthened  chase,  but  their 
skins  were  useless  for  mantles,  the  fur  having  acquired  more 
of  the  thick  woolly  nature  of  that  of  the  full-grown  animal. 
The  next  halt  was  made  in  a place  called  Telck,  a valley  of 
considerable  width,  on  one  edge  of  which  the  burrow  of  a 
Patagonian  hare  or  cavy  was  pointed  out  to  me,  but  the 
owner  was  not  visible.  Here  a messenger  arrived  with  an 
answer  to  our  letter  from  Foyel,  indited  by  a Valdivian 
Indian  named  Antonio  Guaitu,  educated  by  the  missionaries, 
who  filled  the  post  of  secretary  to  the  chief.  The  caciques 
having  formed  a circle,  in  which  my  place  was  next  the 
president,  Casimiro,  the  chasquis  were  introduced,  and 
ceremoniously  handed  me  the  letter,  written  in  most  peculiar 
Spanish,  which,  after  some  private  study,  I was  able  to 
decipher  and  expound  to  the  attentive  assembly.  It  con- 
tained many  expressions  of  goodwill,  and  hopes  of  a 
speedy  meeting,  winding  up  with  an  apology  that,,  owing 
to  having  left  his  country  north  of  the  Kio  Limay,  and 
come  down  into  these  parts  in  order  to  hunt  the  young 
guanaco,  he  regretted  having  so  few  warriors  in  his  train 
wherewith  to  welcome  ‘the  great  chief  of  the  south,’  viz., 
Casimiro.  After  this  function,  with  my  deportment  in 
which,  be  it  modestly  said,  all  the  chiefs  were  much  pleased, 
as  well  as  gratified  by  the  amicable  contents  of  the  despatch, 
one  of  the  Araucanian  caciques  assuring  me  with  many 
compliments  that  his  horses  were  always  at  my  disposal 
for  a mount,  all  adjourned  to  a shooting  match,  or  rather 
pistol  practice,  at  which  the  performances  were  decidedly 
moderate,  and  the  mark  seemed  to  be  the  safest  place. 
Starting  thence  on  March  3,  and  travelling  always  north- 


220 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


■wards  over  the  barren  tipper  pampas  with  scarcely  a shrub 
on  them,  the  wall-like  Cordillera  rising  on  the  west,  and 
ranges  of  hills  hounding  the  view  to  the  east,  about  two  p.m. 
we  arrived  at  a marshy  plain : there,  as  we  were  halting  to 
make  a fire,  a cloud  of  smoke  rose  suddenly  from  the  opposite 
side,  indicating  the  near  approach  of  the  chasqui  sent  to 
Las  Manzanas.  Half  a dozen  of  us  were  immediately  de- 
spatched to  verify  the  supposition,  and,  leaving  our  dinner 
for  a future  occasion,  raced  across  the  valley  at  full  speed, 
the  Indians  firmly  believing  that  the  messengers  would  bring 
liquor  with  them,  and  every  one  being  ambitious  of  the  first 
drink.  We  at  length  made  them  out,  and  perceiving  us  in 
return  they  halted  and  dismounted  by  a small  hillock,  where 
we  shortly  joined  them,  Oasimiro  following  sedately,  as  be- 
came so  grand  a personage.  The  Indians  were  disappointed 
as  to  the  advent  of  liquor,  the  messengers  having  brought 
nothing  with  them  except  a few  apples,  some  of  which, 
distributed  to  us,  proved  to  be  very  juicy  and  refreshing, 
equalling  any  European  apple.  The  only  answer  to  our 
letter  was  a verbal  message  to  the  effect  that  we  should  be 
welcome  at  Las  Manzanas,  and  that  Cheoeque  would  collect 
a force  to  meet  us,  all  his  people  being  at  present  busy  in 
the  mountains  gathering  the  harvest  of  apples  and  pihones  ; 
he  also  stated  that  he  had  received  late  news  from  Patagones, 
one  Mariano  Linares,  brother  of  the  head  chief  of  the  tame 
Indians  in  that  settlement,  being  at  present  a visitor  at  Las 
Manzanas.  Casimiro  was  rather  irritated  at  not  receiving 
a written  answer,  but  on  my  pointing  out  that  it  was  just 
possible  Cheoeque  did  not  own  a secretary  in  his  suite,  the 
chief  was  somewhat  pacified,  although  his  dignity  was  rather 
hurt,  and  he  recurred  again  and  again  to  the  subject. 

On  our  way  to  thetoldos, — which,  during  the  intervals  of 
our  hearing  the  news,  roasting  apples,  &c.,  had  been  pitched, 
— Casimiro  pointed  out  to  me  the  scene  of  a former  fight  in 
which  a chief  and  several  Indians  had  been  killed.  It  was 
a very  desirable  place  for  encampment,  but  owing  to  these 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLVM. 


221 


antecedent  was  carefully  avoided,  and  instead  of  it  our 
party  occupied  a damp  and  even  sloppy  site  on  the  borders 
of  a small  stream  that  lost  itself  in  a large  marsh  farther 
to  the  east,  while  the  Araucanians  had  selected  a better  spot 
a little  higher  up  the  valley.  The  following  day  we  hunted 
over  some  hills  in  the  vicinity  of  the  mountains,  and  killed  a 
great  quantity  of  ostriches,  scarcely  a man  coming  home 
without  a good  supply  of  meat. 

On  March  5,  early  in  the  morning,  whilst  most  of  us  were 
rounding  up  our  horses,  others  smoking  at  the  fireside,  some 
men  appeared  in  the  distance  with  several  horses,  one  of 
which  appeared  to  be  loaded.  In  a moment  many  Indians 
were  away  to  meet  the  new  comers,  and  one  came  back  at 
speed  to  inform  us  that  they  were  Manzanero  Indians  bring- 
ing liquor  to  trade  with.  They  proceeded  to  Quintuhual’s 
toldo,  one  of  them  being  a connection  of  the  chief,  and  thei’e 
dismounted,  unloading  then’  horse  of  two  sheepskins  filled 
with  rum.  Great  was  the  rejoicing  amongst  the  Indians,  and 
large  the  crowd  that  soon  collected  round  Quintuhual’s  toldo, 
carefully  keeping  at  a l’espectable  distance.  Casimiro  and 
myself  were  shortly  sent  for,  and  on  riding  over  wei’e  invited 
to  preside  at  the  commencement  of  the  festival.  On  our  dis- 
mounting, in  company  with  several  of  the  other  caciques,  four 
lances  were  planted  in  the  ground  (one  having  a white  weft 
or  poncho  placed  on  it),  and  the  chiefs,  each  taking  a horn  or 
pannikin  containing  a very  little  rum,  marched  round  the 
lances  muttering  an  incantation  and  sprinkling  a little  liqxxor 
on  the  ground,  also  on  the  lances  as  they  passed.  This 
ceremony  was  repeated  twice,  a select  body  of  old  women 
attending  to  sing  and  ci’y,  to  assist  in  frightening  away  the 
evil  spii’it.  After  this  my  brother,  who  appeared  to  be  master 
of  the  ceremonies,  handed  pannikins  of  gi’Og  round,  and  all 
were  soon  very  convivial.  After  taking  a glass  or  two  I 
retired,  in  company  with  Orkeke  and  Hinchel,  neither  of 
whom  was  inclined  to  drink  much,  owing  to  the  possibility 
of  a disturbance.  The  rest  of  the  party  then  began  to  buy 


222 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


drink,  as  the  first  free  allowance  was  stopped,  and  in  a short 
time  many  were  in  an  advanced  stage  of  intoxication,  amongst 
whom  was  our  head  chief.  The  terms  of  barter  were  a 
mantle  or  unbroken  colt  for  two  bottles  of  villainous  Val- 
divian  rum,  which  was,  as  the  Teliuelches  agreed,  a very 
exorbitant  price  ; but  inasmuch  as  the  dealers  left  it  free 
for  them  either  to  go  without  or  pay  up,  the  liquor  was  soon 
finished  and  the  merchants  possessed  of  some  eighteen  new 
mantles  and  a good  number  of  mares  and  colts.  The  artful 
Tehuelches,  however,  during  the  ensuing  night,  stole  hack 
a portion  of  the  mantles,  and  humbugged  the  Araucanians 
about  the  horses,  professing  not  to  be  able  to  catch  them. 
Everything  went  on  quietly  until  about  three  p.m.,  when  a 
fight  took  place,  but  the  combatants  were  disarmed.  From 
this  up  to  eight  p.m.,  Quintuhual,  Orkeke,  and  many  ©f 
the  people  who  had  kept  sober,  were  occupied  in  quelling  dis- 
turbances, Casimiro  being  as  bad  as  any,  and  sending  for  his 
gun  wherewith  to  shoot  some  imagined  enemy,  which  I fortu- 
nately intercepted,  and  after  plugging  up  the  nipples  hid  it 
behind  the  toldo.  There  was  little  sleep  to  be  obtained  till 
nearly  morning,  when  the  inebriated  ones  laid  down  anywhere 
and  everywhere  to  sleep  olf  their  potations.  The  following 
morning  Casimiro  awoke  with  a bad  headache  and  bad  temper, 
and  commenced  talking  about  something  that  had  been  said 
to  him  the  previous  day,  on  which  I informed  him  that  he 
must  have  no  shame  left  in  him  to  get  so  intoxicated,  and  that 
no  Indians  could  respect  a chief  who  was  the  first  to  set  an 
evil  example  by  wishing  to  create  a disturbance,  while  Quin- 
tuhual had  remained  sober,  taking  care  of  his  people  as  became 
a chief,  and  that  he  (Casimiro)  should  have  done  the  same. 
This  raised  the  ire  of  the  ancient  monarch,  who  answered  in 
a most  impolite  manner,  so  much  so,  that  to  avoid  a row  I 
left  him  to  his  bad  head  and  quitted  the  toldo  till  he  should 
be  in  a better  frame  of  mind.  Shortly  after  this  little  episode 
we  broke  up  the  camp  and  marched  a few  miles  to  the  north. 
Having  been  detained  by  a missing  horse,  I did  not  start  with 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


223 

the  hunting  party,  but  overtook  the  people  who  had  arrived 
with  the  grog,  returning  with  their  remaining  mantles,  horses, 
colts,  &c.,  and  loudly  abusing  the  Tehuelches  for  a set  of 
thieving  rascals.  One  of  this  party  was  a Valdivian  boy  who 
spoke  fluent  Spanish,  and  invited  me  to  accompany  him  to 
Los  Llanos,  whither  he  now  intended  returning.  He  stated 
that  in  seven  or  eight  days  he  hoped  to  reach  his  destination, 
and  that  from  thence  to  the  port  of  Valdivia  was  but  a day 
and  a half’s  journey.  On  arriving  at  the  next  encampment  I 
bade  adieu  to  these  people,  who  continued  their  march  far- 
ther to  the  north,  not  liking  to  trust  their  property  again  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  our  camp. 

Only  halting  for  the  night,  we  resumed  our  journey  shortly 
after  daylight,  mounting  a rather  steep  ascent  to  a high 
plateau  strewn  with  sharp  stones  and  crossed  by  ridges  of 
rocks  at  intervals. 

Ostriches  and  guanaco  were  numerous,  and  although 
chasing  them  almost  involved  the  certainty  of  laming  one’s 
horse,  many  were  killed.  In  this  hunt  a male  guanaco  came 
racing  towards  me  from  the  Indians  on  the  western  side  of 
the  circle,  and  on  my  galloping  to  intercept  him,  he  turned 
and  descended  a ridge  of  rocks.  I was  about  to  throw  the 
bolas,  being  within  distance,  when  he  suddenly  tripped,  and, 
falling  on  his  head,  lay  stunned  at  the  bottom  of  the  cliff, 
where  I soon  despatched  him  with  my  knife. 

These  barren  pampas  terminated  suddenly  in  a line  of  cliffs, 
gradually  but  steeply  shelving  in  some  places,  and  in  others 
presenting  a perpendicular  descent  of  200  feet  ; at  the  base 
lay  a large  plain  watered  by  a brook,  and  enclosed  on  the 
southern,  eastern,  and  partially  on  the  western  sides  by  these 
cliffs,  while  the  northern  and  north-western  boundary  was 
formed  by  hills  rising  in  gentle  slopes.  In  about  the  centre 
of  this  plain,  close  to  the  brook  side,  were  to  be  distinguished 
the  toldos  of  Foyel,  to  which  the  women  were  wending  their 
way,  having  descended  by  a ravine  to  the  east,  while  some  dis- 
tance to  the  north-east  on  the  upper  plains  were  to  be  distin- 


224 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


guisked  the  hunting  fires  of  the  proprietors  of  the  toldos. 
In  due  course  of  time  we  arrived,  but  as  the  hunting  party 
did  not  return  till  late,  we  saw  nothing  of  Foyel’s  people  that 
evening,  though  letters  were  exchanged  between  the  chiefs, 
felicitating  each  other  on  the  meeting,  and  appointing  next 
day  for  the  ceremony  of  welcome. 

The  following  morning,  however,  day  broke  with  a furious 
south-west  gale,  with  passing  squalls  of  snow  and  sleet,  and 
so  bitterly  cold  and  miserable  that  Foyel  sent  a note  to  state 
that,  ‘ as  the  day  was  rather  frozen,’  perhaps  it  would  be 
better  to  postpone  the  ceremony  till  finer  weather,  inasmuch 
as  after  it  a parlemento  would  have  to  be  held  to  consider 
matters  in  general.  Casimiro  answered,  through  me,  that 
he  was  of  the  same  opinion,  but  would  do  himself  the  honour 
of  paying  a personal  visit.  Presently  we  sallied  out  in  the 
storm,  taking  the  presents  and  the  necessary  number  of 
women  to  cry,  and  proceeded  to  Foyel’s  toldo,  where  we 
handed  over  the  gifts,  the  women  melodiously  howling  during 
the  operation.  A short  parley  then  ensued  between  the  two 
caciques,  neither  of  whom,  be  it  remembered,  could  under- 
stand the  language  of  the  other.  After  this  ceremonial  was 
concluded,  which  took  place  outside  the  toldo  during  a blind- 
ing snowstorm,  we  returned  to  our  home,  and  shortly  after 
the  day  cleared  up  a little,  and  Foyel’s  people  were  visible 
bringing  up  cattle  and  sheep  from  distant  parts  of  the  valley, 
to  which  they  had  been  driven  to  seek  shelter  from  the 
storm.  Some  headed  in  our  direction,  and  were  driven  close 
to  the  toldo,  over  which  the  Buenos  Ayrean  colours  proudly 
waved  to  designate  the  dwelling  of  the  chief.  Foyel  then 
arrived,  and  had  an  interview  with  Casimiro,  presenting  him 
with  cattle  which  were  lazoed  by  some  of  the  Yaldivian 
Indians,  and  a light-haired  man  dressed  in  Christian  clothes, 
but  with  rather  a wild  appearance.  My  first  idea  was  that 
he  was  either  Scotch  or  English,  but  as  he  approached  me 
whilst  despatching  one  of  the  cows,  I asked  him  in  Spanish 
where  he  came  from,  and  whether  he  was  not  English  ; he 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


225 


answered  that  he  was  from  Chili,  hilt  had  lived  nearly  all  his 
life  in  Valdivia  working  cattle,  and  had  for  the  last  two  years 
been  in  company  with  the  Valdivians  catching  cattle  in  the 
Cordillera,  and  making  his  head-quarters  at  Foyel’s  camp. 
His  name  was  Ventura  Delgado,  and  he  had  visited  Patagones 
the  previous  year  in  company  with  the  secretary,  Antonio 
Guaitu,  who  took  an  application  for  rations  for  Foyel.  As 
we  were  both  busy,  we  arranged  to  meet  and  have  a talk 
later  in  the  day.  A good  deal  of  eating  took  place  in  the 
forenoon,  and  to  escape  the  crowd,  and  also  the  persecution 
of  having  continually  to  write  some  nonsensical  message 
from  Casimiro  to  Foyel,  who  about  every  half  hour  used  to 
interchange  written  messages,  although  the  toldos  were  not 
above  two  hundred  yards  apart,  I quitted  the  chief’s  quarters 
for  a stroll.  While  roaming  about  the  camp  looking  for  the 
toldo  in  which  my  new  Valdivian  acquaintance  put  up,  I was 
called  into  another,  where  Casimiro’s  aunt,  one  of  our  do- 
mestic circle,  and  my  ‘ companion  of  the  pipe,’  was  sitting  by 
the  tire  drinking  grog,  in  which  she  invited  me  to  assist  her ; 
nothing  loth,  I sat  down,  and  we  had  two  or  three  cheerers 
together,  after  which  the  owner  of  the  toldo,  a brother-in- 
law  of  Foyel’s,  a Pampa  Indian,  arrived.  He  spoke  fluent 
Spanish,  having  formerly  been  for  a considerable  time  near 
the  settlements,  and  was  an  intellectual,  fine-looking  man  ; 
he  was  very  civil,  and  escorted  me  to  Foyel’ s toldo,  where  I 
spent  the  afternoon  in  company  with  Antonio  Guaitu  and 
Ventura  Delgado,  the  Valdivian. 

On  March  8,  the  day  being  fine  and  suitable  for  the  cere- 
mony of  welcome,  Casimiro  gave  orders  at  an  early  hour  for 
all  to  mount  and  hold  themselves  in  readiness  to  go  through 
the  necessary  evolutions.  About  an  hour  after  the  orders 
had  been  given,  most  of  the  Patagonians  were  mounted  and 
ready,  so  all  proceeded  to  the  part  of  the  valley  where  the 
united  Araucanian  Indians,  under  Quintuhual  and  Foyel, 
were  already  formed  in  line,  lances  in  hand,  waiting  for  our 
motley  crowd,  who  gave  considerable  trouble  to  the  chiefs, 

15 


226 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


owing  to  their  loose  ideas  of  formation  : the  caciques  and 
adjutant  no  sooner  had  got  one  part  of  the  line  into  some- 
thing like  order,  than  the  people  at  the  other  extremity 
would  break  up  into  knots  and  converse  or  smoke.  Foyel 
sent  several  messages  to  Casimiro  to  keep  his  line  properly 
formed,  and  at  length  the  Tehuelches  were  arrayed  in  some- 
thing like  order  and  the  ceremony  commenced.  After  it  was 
concluded,  a great  parlemento  was  held,  which  lasted  until 
the  afternoon  ; all  the  previous  resolutions  were  confirmed, 
viz.,  that  Casimiro  should  be  recognised  the  chief  of  the 
South,  his  jurisdiction  extending  over  all  Indians  south  of 
the  Rio  Limay  ; that  with  his  people  he  should  guarantee 
the  safety  of  Patagones,  and  hold  in  check  the  Pampa  Indians 
of  Las  Salinas,  under  the  chief  Calficura,  in  the  improbable 
event  of  his  endeavouring  to  cross  the  Rio  Limay  for  the 
purpose  of  making  raids  into  the  settlements  ; 2ndly,  that  we 
should,  all  united,  march  to  Las  Manzanas  to  visit  Cheoeque, 
and  propose  to  him  to  guarantee  with  his  forces  the  safety  of 
the  north  bank  of  the  river,  which  would  effectually  bridle 
Calficura  and  secure  Patagones.  After  the  parlemento  I pro- 
ceeded to  visit  Foyel,  and  was  received  by  him  with  every 
expression  of  friendship  and  regard.  During  the  course  of 
our  interview  he  asked  me  to  show  him  my  compass,  the 
fame  of  which  had  gone  before  it.  I at  once  took  it  off  my 
neck,  where  I was  in  the  habit  of  carrying  it,  and  endeavoured 
to  explain  its  uses  to  him.  Unlike  the  other  Indians,  although 
at  first  regarding  it  rather  with  superstitious  awe,  Foyel 
soon  understood  its  uses,  though  he  also  hinted  that  it  might 
not  only  be  useful  for  finding  the  way  at  night,  but  perhaps 
would  bring  luck  at  play  as  well.  I accordingly  begged  him 
to  accept  it,  which,  after  a little  demur,  he  did  with  evident 
delight,  wrapping  it  carefully  up  and  giving  it  in  charge  of 
his  daughter. 

He  then  commenced  a conversation  on  the  subject  of 
Indians  and  their  relations  with  white  people.  He  stated 
that  he  was  in  favour  of  friendly  intercourse  both  with  the 


T ECKEL  TO  GEYLUM. 


227 


Valdivian  people  on  the  western  side  and  the  Argentines  on 
the  eastern  shores.  I quote  some  of  his  exact  words  : ‘ God 
has  given  to  us  these  plains  and  hills  wherein  to  dwell ; he 
has  provided  us  with  the  guanaco,  from  the  skins  of  which 
to  form  our  toldos,  and  from  the  young  of  which  we  make 
mantles  to  clothe  ourselves  with  ; also  the  ostrich  and  arma- 
dillo for  food.  Our  contact  with  the  Christians  of  late  years 
has  given  us  a taste  for  yerba,  sugar,  biscuit,  flour,  and 
other  luxuries  formerly  unknown,  but  which  now  have  be- 
come almost  necessary  to  us.  If  we  have  war  with  the 
Spaniards,  we  shall  have  no  market  for  our  skins,  ponchos, 
feathers,  &c.,  therefore  it  is  for  our  own  interests  to  be  on 
good  terms  with  them  ; besides,  there  is  plenty  of  room  for 
all.’  He  then  went  on  to  state  that  he  was  endeavouring  to 
find  a route  to  Valdivia,  avoiding  Las  Manzanas  and  the 
Picunche  tribe  of  Indians,  who  are  against  all  foreigners  ; and 
that  if  possible  he  would  get  families  of  Valdivian  Indians, 
and  endeavour  to  cultivate  some  of  the  valleys  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  the  Kio  Limay. 

I was  not  at  that  time  aware  of  Mr.  Cox’s  descent  from 
Lake  Nahuel-huapi,  or  could  at  once  have  informed  him  of 
that  means  of  communication  with  the  settlements  on  the 
western  side  ; still  I doubt  the  practicability  of  that  route  for 
women  and  children  carrying  with  them  household  goods  and 
agricultural  implements.  After  some  more  conversation,  and 
receiving  a general  invitation  to  visit  his  toldo  whenever  I 
felt  inclined,  and  a hospitable  assurance  that  there  would 
always  he  food  for  me  if  I was  hungry,  I retired  to  Casimiro’s, 
whilst  Foyel  went  away  to  play  cards,  taking  with  him  my 
compass  for  luck,  and  curiously  enough  he  won  several  horses, 
silver  stirrups,  and  other  valuables  from  the  Tehuelches. 

The  following  day  a race  took  place,  the  Tehuelches  first 
taking  their  horse  up  to  the  top  of  a neighbouring  hill,  where 
the  doctor  performed  some  magical  ceremony  to  ensure  his 
winning,  which  he  did,  though  apparently  inferior  to  his 
competitor.  In  this  plain,  called  by  the  Indians  Gatchen- 


228 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


kaik  or  Rocky  Hills,  Crime’s  illness  caused  us  to  remain  en- 
camped until  March  21,  during  the  greater  part  of  which 
time  I and  several  others  were  suffering  from  neuralgia  and 
ulcerations  in  the  mouth,  caused  I think,  by  the  bad  water 
we  had  to  drink,  perhaps  also  by  the  want  of  salt,  which  had 
become  a very  scarce  commodity. 

Friendly  rivalry  was  kept  up  between  the  tribes  in  play, 
hunting,  and  other  sports,  in  which  fortune  varied  from  one 
side  to  the  other.  Every  other  day  I visited  poor  Crime, 
whose  groans  might  be  heard  at  night  accompanied  by  the 
chant  of  some  old  hag.  The  sick  man  always  asked  me 
how  long  he  would  live.  I at  first  tried  to  persuade  him  that 
he  would  get  well,  but  after  a time,  as  he  was  really  fast 
sinking,  gave  him  to  understand  that  he  might  live  a month 
if  he  was  lucky.  I offered  to  open  his  leg  and  endeavour  to 
cure  him,  but  this  he  would  not  allow,  stating  that  if  he  died 
under  the  operation  it  would  go  hard  with  the  doctor,  which 
was  indeed  true,  so  I gave  up  my  intentions  of  performing 
a surgical  operation. 

Before  we  broke  up  the  camp,  a Yaldivian  and  other 
Indians  arrived  from  Cheoeque’s,  but  brought  little  news, 
stating  that  the  Manzaneros  were  still  dispersed  amongst 
the  valleys  of  the  Cordillera  engaged  in  gathering  the  yearly 
harvest  of  apples  and  pinones  : of  these  we  had  already  re- 
ceived plenty  from  Foyel’s  people,  who  kept  up  a constant 
communication  with  their  relations  near  the  Rio  Limay. 

On  the  21st  all  left  the  valley  and  travelled  a few  leagues 
through  a diversified  country.  On  the  line  of  march  cliffs, 
which  stood  out  in  the  glens  in  irregular,  picturesque  manner, 
were  of  yellow  and  red  sandstone,  but  to  the  westward  black 
basaltic  heights  could  be  seen  abutting  on  the  plains,  while 
in  hunting  over  the  higher  ground  masses  of  ironstone  and 
igneous  rock  were  met  with  scattered  over  the  surface.  We 
remained  for  the  night  in  a valley  called  Changi,  and,  pro- 
ceeding next  day,  arrived  about  noon  at  a large  plain  shut 
in  by  sandstone  cliffs  on  the  eastern  side,  at  the  northern 


TECKEL  TO  GEY  LEM. 


229 


side  of  which  towered  a peculiar  pointed  rock,  perhaps 
300  feet  in  height,  standing  out  alone  on  the  sloping  descent ; 
viewed  from  the  western  side,  it  appeared  like  a natural 
column  composed  of  stratified  yellow  and  red  and  black 
layers  of  sand,  and  on  the  summit  a condor  had  his  eyry. 

The  plain  extended  for  several  miles  to  the  west,  where  it 
was  again  closed  in  hy  cliffs,  differing  from  those  to  the 
eastward  in  being  composed  of  basalt.  In  this  plain,  called 
Geylum,  situated,  according  to  Indian  accounts,  a few 
leagues  to  the  eastward  of  Lake  Nahuel-huapi,  and  distant 
sixty  miles  from  the  Rio  Limay,  and  seventy-five  miles  from 
Las  Manzanas,  it  was  determined  to  spend  the  time  required 
for  sending  chasquis  to  give  notice  of  our  near  approach, 
prior  to  all  marching  in  company  for  Cheoeque’s  head- 
quarters. 


CHAPTER  VII. 


LAS  MANZANAS. 

Catching  a Thief — Miss  Foyel — Start  for  Las  Manzanas — First  View  of 
the  Apple  Groves — Omens  of  War — Inacayal’s  Tolderia — Crossing  the 
Rio  Limay — Mr.  Cox’s  Shipwreck — Lenketrou’s  Raid — A Night  of 
Alarm — Bravery  of  my  Cousins — The  Great  Cheoeque — A Mounted 
Parlemento — Apples  and  Pinones — Graviel’s  Madness — Las  Manzanas 
— Cheoeque’ s Palace — The  Revels — Feuds  between  the  Chiefs — The 
Picunches  and  the  Passes  to  Valdivia — Trading  and  Politics — Resolu- 
tions of  Peace — A Grand  Banquet — Power  of  Cheoeque — Araucanian 
Customs — Farewell  Presents — Invitation  to  Return — Orkeke’s  Gene- 
rosity— Return  to  Geylum — Outbreak  of  an  Epidemic — My  Pretty 
Page — Departure  from  Geylum. 

THE  day  after  our  arrival  at  Geylum,  Manzaneros  or 
Araucanians  arrived  from  the  north  with  cider  of  their 
own  manufacture  stored  in  sheep  skins,  apples,  and  pinones, 
to  trade ; and  a scene  of  debauchery  ensued,  as  usual.  At 
night  an  attempt,  nearly  successful,  was  made  to  rob  our 
toldo  : one  of  the  women,  however,  was  awake,  and  heard 
the  thief  endeavouring  to  get  into  the  back  of  the  sleeping 
places  where  some  newly-finished  mantles  were  stored  ; she 
gave  the  alarm  to  two  of  the  men,  and  they  endeavoured  to 
catch  the  would-be  intruder,  who,  hearing  the  alarm  raised, 
started  off  at  speed,  not  without  receiving  a cut  from  a knife 
which  marked  him  deeply  on  his  shoulder ; and,  what  was 
worse,  being  recognised  as  he  ran  off. 

Foyel  invited  me  to  drink  at  his  expense,  but  I merely 
stayed  in  his  toldo  long  enough  for  the  observance  of 


LAS  MANZANAS. 


231 


etiquette  ; then  retired  to  keep  Hinchel,  who  would  not 
drink,  company  by  his  fireside.  Whilst  chatting  together  he 
related  how,  many  years  ago,  this  place  had  been  the  scene 
of  a great  battle  between  the  Tehuelches  and  Manzaneros,  in 
which  he,  though  only  a boy,  was  struck  down  by  a bola 
perdida  and  wounded  with  a lance  whilst  on  the  ground  ; the 
battle  resulting  in  a victory  to  the  Tehuelches. 

The  day  following  the  drink,  meat  being  scarce,  I dined 
in  Foyel’s  toldo  off  a little  cornmeal  and  a dessert  of  apples 
and  pinones,  of  which  the  honours  were  done  by  his  daugh- 
ter, a pretty  girl  of  eighteen,  with  long  black  silky  hair, 
which  it  was  the  special  duty  of  her  handmaid — a captive 
Tehuelche  girl — to  dress  daily.  This  young  lady  never  con- 
descended to  any  menial  labour,  though  she  occasionally 
busied  her  delicate  fingers  with  the  needle  ; her  dowry  of 
about  eighty  mares  and  the  influence  of  her  father  made  her 
of  course  a most  desirable  match;  but  she,  up  to  the  time 
of  my  departure,  had  exercised  the  privilege  of  an  heiress 
and  refused  all  offers.  This  evening  she  was  in  great  trouble, 
having  lost  a new  mantle  and  some  other  valuables,  stolen 
no  doubt  by  the  Tehuelches.  I promised  to  set  inquiries  on 
foot  through  Casimiro,  which  resulted  in  the  stolen  property 
being  given  up,  and  the  thief  proved  to  be  the  same  individual 
who  had  endeavoured  to  rob  our  toldo. 

Shortly  after  this  two  messengers  were  despatched  to 
Cheoeque,  who  returned  on  March  25  with  intelligence 
that  the  said  chief  would  be  ready  to  receive  us  on  April  2, 
and  ‘ that  we  were  to  bring  our  arms,’  which  latter  message 
was  rather  ambiguous.  I had  been  given  the  option  of 
taking  our  chief’s  message  to  Cheoeque,  but  owing  to  one  of 
my  horses  being  lame,  and  for  other  reasons,  preferred 
going  with  the  mass  later  on.  Mena,  the  Chilian,  was 
therefore  honoured  with  the  despatches  in  my  place,  as  he 
alone  was  competent  to  read  the  Spanish  letters  written  by 
myself  as  secretary,  and  he  returned  with  glowing  accounts 
of  the  civility  shown  him  at  Las  Manzanas,  and  the  generally 


232 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


civilised  appearance  of  those  Indians.  We  passed  several 
very  hungry  and  disagreeable  days  in  Geylum  previous  to 
starting;  there  was  little  game  in  the  surrounding  country, 
and  the  weather  was  cold  and  wet,  with  occasional  snow. 
For  two  whole  days  Casimiro,  Mena,  and  myself,  who  were 
usually  messmates,  had  nothing  to  eat  but  an  armadillo  and 
a few  fish  which  I caught  in  a pool  of  the  stream.  Near  the 
Column  Rock,  whilst  hunting,  we  discovered  a ‘ cache,' 
belonging  to  Foyel’s  Indians,  which  contained  something 
wrapped  and  lashed  up  in  hides : although  the  temptation 
was  great  to  overhaul  its  contents,  the  package  was  left 
unopened,  and  a- quiet  warning  conveyed  to  Foyel  that  others 
were  not  likely  to  be  so  scrupulous.  This  confirmed  what 
Casimiro  had  said  as  to  these  Indians  providently  leaving 
bags  of  fat  and  provisions  in  various  places  to  which  they 
expected  to  return  at  no  very  distant  period. 

On  the  day  fixed  in  the  council,  held  subsequent  to  the 
return  of  the  chasquis,  we  all  started,  fully  equipped,  on 
1 our  journey  to  Las  Manzanas,  mustering  250  men  of  the 
united  Indians,  without  toldos  or  baggage,  and  in  light 
marching  order  with  a few  spare  horses.  A few  horses 
were  loaded  with  coverings  for  toldos,  mantles,  &c.,  which 
the  women  hoped  to  sell  to  advantage  to  the  Araucanians, 
and  a few  of  the  women  accompanied  the  expedition  to 
conduct  their  barter,  while  a guard  of  perhaps  forty  men 
remained  behind  to  provide  food  for  the  women  and  children 
who  were  to  await  our  return. 

We  crossed  the  gradually  sloping  irregular  plains  covered 
with  stunted  bushes,  but  scarcely  deserving  the  name  of  high 
pampas,  which  bordered  the  northern  side  of  the  valley  of 
Geylum,  and  after  passing  between  two  parallel  walls  of 
rocks,  forming  a sort  of  natural  street,  we  emerged  into  a 
succession  of  grassy  plains,  separated  by  barren  rocky  hills 
covered  with  scrub,  on  attaining  the  summits  of  which  the 
wooded  Cordillera  on  the  western  side  rose  into  view  some 
few  leagues  distant.  About  eleven  a.m.,  after  we  had  been 


LAS  MANZANAS. 


233 


some  four  hours  on  our  march,  we  met  two  men,  bringing 
with  them  a pack-horse  with  a couple  of  skins  of  grog  for 
Foyel’s  people.  They  were  soon  surrounded  by  Tehuelches, 
who  proposed  to  drink  there  and  then,  and  were  much  inclined 
to  help  themselves;  but  a messenger  from  Foyel’s  people  in 
the  rear  arriving,  they  were  permitted  to  pass  unmolested  on 
their  way  to  Geylum,  and  we  proceeded  on  our  journey  and 
formed  a circle  to  hunt.  The  country  became  more  im- 
practicable for  riding  as  we  left  the  lower  plains  and  mounted 
some  hills  broken  by  deep  gorges  and  bristling  in  every  part 
with  rocks  sparkling  with  unusually  large  plates  of  mica, 
which  glistened  like  glass  in  the  sunshine  ; these  hills  were 
terminated  by  steep  cliffs,  over  which  the  ostriches  were 
driven,  a party  having  previously  descended  to  look  out  for 
them  below.  It  was  a curious  sight  to  see  the  ostriches 
dropping  down  heights  varying  from  ten  to  fifty  feet,  often 
two  or  three  together,  with  outspread  wings.  They  appeared 
generally  to  be  stunned  for  a minute  or  two  on  reaching  the 
bottom,  and  by  the  time  they  were  on  their  legs  found  them- 
selves hampered  by  a ball  from  the  unerring  hand  of  some 
stalwart  Tehuelche,  and  running  a yard  or  two  fell  with 
broken  legs. 

Descending  from  these  cliffs  we  mounted  a range  of  hills 
more  than  2,000  feet  high,  by  means  of  a tolerably  practicable 
track  for  travelling,  and  on  arriving  at  the  summit  halted 
for  the  remainder  of  the  cavalcade.  From  this  point  a most 
magnificent  view  presented  itself ; right  below  us,  looking 
quite  close,  but  really  some  thirty  miles  distant,  lay  a dark 
line  as  of  a deep  cutting,  marking  the  valley  of  the  Kio 
Limay,  which  on  the  west  side  was  terminated  by  high 
wooded  mountains  with  steep  precipitous  sides.  Away  to 
the  N.W.  was  a very  high  snowclad  mountain,  on  which  the 
rays  of  the  setting  sun  were  shedding  a rose-coloured  light. 
Between  this  and  the  line  of  the  river  rose  wooded  ranges  of 
hills,  the  real  apple  groves  we  had  heard  so  much  about ; 
below  these  again  was  a low  peaked  eminence,  at  the  foot  of 


234 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


which,  invisible  to  our  eyes,  lay  our  destination,  viz.,  the 
toldos  of  Cheoeque.  For  weeks  Las  Manzanas  and  Cheoeque 
had  been  almost  the  sole  topic  of  conversation,  and  the  general 
excitement,  which  had  been  intense  at  starting,  now  cul- 
minated at  the  sight  of  our  distant  bourne.  As  we  halted 
the  Indians  all  raised  their  hands  to  their  foreheads,  saluting 
the  distant  river,  and  inviting  the  Spirit  of  the  locality  to  be 
propitious  to  our  undertaking,  as  to  the  issue  of  which  there 
was  great  uncertainty.  The  night  before  Casimiro  had 
pointed  out  the  redness  of  the  setting  sun,  and  declared  it 
to  be  an  omen  of  war ; but  without  paying  attention  to  the 
omen,  which  indeed  was  not  perceptible  to  my  eyes,  the  un- 
precedented visit  of  250  Tehuelches  ostensibly  for  peace 
might  very  possibly  be  otherwise  understood  by  Cheoeque  : 
indeed,  it  afterwards  appeared  that  he,  in  reality,  was  by  no 
means  assured  of  our  pacific  intentions. 

When  all  were  collected  and  prepared  to  descend  the 
mountain,  it  transpired  that  Casimiro,  who  had  been  missing 
since  the  hunt  commenced,  had,  in  company  with  several 
other  Tehuelches  and  Foyel’s  Indians,  returned  to  drink. 
This  was  very  annoying,  and  all  present  united  in  abusing 
him  for  setting  such  an  example  when  about  to  enter  a part 
of  the  country  whither  we  were  going  on  sufferance,  amongst 
a not  remarkably  friendly- disposed  set  of  people.  We  halted 
after  nightfall  in  a valley  at  the  side  of  a small  rapid  stream, 
the  banks  of  which,  for  a short  distance,  were  covered  with 
high  tussocks  of  broad-leaved  pampa  grass,  amidst  the  shelter 
of  which  we  bivouacked,  although  the  night  was  cold  and 
frosty.  Firewood  was  plentiful,  supplied  by  drift-wood  brought 
down  by  winter  or  spring  floods,  so  with  blazing  fires  and 
under  the  lee  of  the  pampa  grass  we  slept  warmly  enough. 
It  was  necessary,  however,  to  keep  a sharp  look-out  on  the 
horses,  as  pasturage  was  scanty.  Before  daylight,  after  a 
slight  consultation,  Guenalto  was  given  chief  command, 
and  we  again  started  ; after  following  a winding  valley  for  a 
short  distance  and  scrambling  up  a steep  slope,  we  continued 


LAS  MANZANAS. 


235 


to  ascend  a hill  of  considerable  height,  and  attained  a more 
open  country,  the  western  side  of  which  was  bounded  by  the 
Cordillera.  In  one  of  the  valleys  bordering  the  mountains 
we  came  suddenly  upon  the  Valdivians,  driving  then-  cattle 
en  route  to  return  to  their  own  country,  Cheoeque  having 
sent  orders  to  the  Picunches  occupying  the  country  near, 
the  only  known  passes  through  the  Cordillera,  to  allow  them 
to  traverse  their  district  unmolested  ; notwithstanding  this 
precaution,  they  were  by  no  means  certain  that  the  Picunches 
would  not  ease  them  of  the  trouble  of  taking  care  of  their 
animals  on  their  arrival  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  passes. 
Clearing  this  open  country,  we  again  ascended  a slight  rise,  at 
the  top  of  which  grew  a single  apple  tree  in  solitary  majesty, 
but  it  had  been  stripped  long  since  of  its  fruit.  Descending 
this  one-tree  ridge,  we  entered  a canon,  and  after  half  an 
hour’s  ride  a sudden  turn  brought  the  valley  of  the  Rio 
Limay  into  view  immediately  below.  Having  passed  through 
the  canon,  we  halted  on  a slight  eminence  immediately 
underneath  the  barranca  bordering  the  southern  side  of 
the  valley  of  the  river.  From  this  cliff  to  the  river  bank, 
varying  from  about  a mile  to  half  a mile  in  width,  extended 
a grassy  plain  cut  up  here  and  there  by  streams,  and  wooded 
at  intervals.  About  a league  to  the  west  the  barranca 
blended  with  the  declivities  of  high  precipitous  mountains, 
and  the  river  appeared  to  force  its  way  from  the  south  be- 
tween steep  precipices  before  trending  into  the  valley.  On 
the  northern  side  the  valley,  though  dotted  here  and  there 
with  clumps  of  trees,  was  more  open,  and  the  distance  to  the 
barranca  greater  than  that  on  the  southern  side.  Imme- 
diately opposite  our  post  was  situated  the  tolderia  of  some  of 
Inacayal’s  Indians,  and  grazing  on  the  surrounding  pastures 
cattle,  sheep,  and  numerous  horses  were  visible.  The  river 
appeared  to  be  of  very  considerable  width,  but  very  rapid 
through  the  whole  course  of  this  open  valley.  A mile  west 
of  the  opening  of  the  canon  three  small  islands  were  described, 
wdiich  Hinchel  pointed  out  as  the  pass,  or  ford  if  it  deserves 


236 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


the  name.  We  accordingly  proceeded  in  that  direction,  and 
taking  off  all  unnecessary  gear,  strapping  our  mantles  close 
up,  or  wearing  them  like  plaids  over  our  shoulders,  descended 
through  the  trees  and  soon  plunged  into  the  river. 

The  first  part  of  the  ford  was  deep,  but  the  water  then 
shallowed  on  nearing  the  shore,  and  the  velocity  of  the  noisy 
stream  greatly  increased.  Still  we  arrived  easily  enough 
at  the  first  island,  but  to  pass  from  that  to  the  smaller  one 
appeared  at  first  to  rather  daunt  even  the  Tehuelches.  The 
current  was  running  like  a millrace,  and  the  waters  foamed 
over  the  uneven  bottom  with  a rush  and  roar  that  rendered  all 
warnings  inaudible.  It  was  evident  that  only  strong  horses 
could  cross  at  all ; but  one  or  two  bolder  spirits  dashed  in,  and 
although  unacquainted  with  the  pass,  reached  the  second  island 
some  distance  down  the  river  in  safety,  so  the  remainder 
shortly  followed,  the  women  crossing  behind  the  men ; here  and 
there  were  places  in  the  ford  which  necessitated  swimming, 
and  in  others  were  huge  boulders,  over  which  the  water 
swirled  in  large  waves.  At  last  we  all  reached  the  bank  in 
safety,  and  were  met  by  some  of  Inacayal’s  Indians.  Being 
among  the  lucky  first  arrivals,  I came  in  for  some  apples  and 
other  food  that  some  of  these  people  of  Incayal’s  had 
thoughtfully  brought  with  them  from  the  toldos. 

When  all  were  mustered  and  had  resumed  their  clothes, 
we  started  for  the  toldos,  where  we  were  received  by  Inacayal, 
and  as  it  was  needful  to  await  those  who  had  remained  be- 
hind drinking,  we  bivouacked  by  the  hank  of  the  river,  and 
shortly  some  cattle  and  mares  were  brought  up  and 
slaughtered  to  satisfy  the  cravings  of  our  hunger.  After 
bathing  in  the  river,  I was  sitting  by  the  fireside  watching 
our  dinner  cooking,  when  I received  a message  to  say  that  I 
was  required  in  one  of  the  toldos.  In  that  indicated  I found 
an  old  Indian,  a brother  of  Quintuhual,  who  spoke  fluent 
Spanish  ; he  invited  me  to  sit  down,  and  then  narrated  that 
an  Englishman  named  Cox  had  formerly  descended  the  river 
from  Lake  Nahuel-huapi  in  a boat,  but  in  trying  to  descend 


CROSSING  THE  RIVER  LIMAY, 


LAS  MANZANAS. 


under  cover  of  niglit,  had  been  wrecked  in  the  rapids  at  the 
bend,  about  a mile  above  the  ford  which  we  had  recently 
crossed  : he  then  took  refuge  among  these  Indians,  by  whom 
he  was  hospitably  received,  and  subsequently  returned  to 
Valdivia  across  the  mountains,  being  unable  to  proceed  to 
Patagones.  The  old  Indian  entertained  a most  friendly  feel- 
ing for  Mr.  Cox,  whom  he  had  known  well,  as  he  had  remained 
several  days  in  his  toldo. 

After  talking  some  time  about  this,  food  was  served,  and 
he  then  proceeded  to  ask  my  opinion  as  to  the  treatment  the 
Indians  experienced  from  what  he  called  the  Spaniards, 
stating  that  the  Chilians  were  encroaching  on  one  side  and 
the  Argentines  on  the  other,  by  which  means  the  Indians 
must  eventually  be  driven  off  the  face  of  the  earth,  or  else 
fight  for  them  existence. 

After  some  more  conversation  I returned  to  our  fireside, 
accompanied  by  a half-bred  nephew  of  Inacayal,  who  had 
left  Patagones  some  eight  months  previously,  having  been 
‘ wanted’  by  the  Juez  de  Paz  on  account  of  his  having  de- 
serted from  the  army,  and  having  further,  in  a quarrel,  either 
killed  or  wounded  a Frenchman.  He  was  anxious  to  induce 
me  to  use  my  influence  with  Casimiro  to  allow  him  to  join 
us,  which  I did  not  do  for  the  best  of  reasons,  viz.,  that  he 
appeared  to  be  a great  scoundrel,  but  I volunteered  to  take 
a message  to  some  of  his  friends  in  Patagones. 

About  midnight,  bugle  calls  on  the  opposite  side  of  the 
river  indicated  the  approach  of  the  rest  of  the  party,  who 
arrived  next  day,  but  Casimiro  was  in  the  bad  temper 
customary  with  him  after  a debauch,  and  steadily  refused  to 
proceed  and  take  advantage  of  the  fine  weather  ; so  another 
day  was  spent  in  loitering  about  by  the  side  of  the  river  and 
eating  a great  deal  of  beef. 

My  first  cousins,  who  were  also  nephews  of  the  old  man 
who  had  formerly  been  acquainted  with  Mr.  Cox,  started  in 
company  with  him  to  procure  some  apples  and  pinones,  pro- 
mising me  plenty  when  they  returned.  Meanwhile  I made 


238 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


acquaintance  with  a Pampa  Indian  named  Gravino,  who 
must  have  originally  been  a Christian  captive  ; he  himself 
stated  that  his  mother  formerly  resided  near  the  settlements, 
and  described  her  as  a Pampa  Indian ; on  her  death,  he, 
being  about  fifteen  years  of  age,  left  the  settlements  to  join 
the  Indians  of  her  tribe,  and  had  got  but  three  days  on  his 
journey  -when  he  met  the  united  party  of  Tehuelches, 
Pampas,  and  Araucanos,  or,  as  he  called  them,  Chilenos, 
under  the  cacique  Lenketrou,  proceeding  to  make  a raid  on 
the  settlements  ; he  had  nothing  for  it  but  to  turn  back,  and 
much  against  his  will  proceed  to  rob  people  under  whose 
protection  he  had  formerly  been.  In  the  foray,  he,  with 
another  youth  of  about  his  own  age,  succeeded  in  driving  off 
a troop  of  mixed  horses  and  mares,  but  being  dreadfully 
tired  he  laid  down  to  sleep  in  a retired  place,  having  secured 
his  riding  horse  by  means  of  a lazo  attached  to  his  own 
ancle.  At  night  he  was  awoke  by  a stampede  of  all  the 
horses ; and  his  own  taking  fright  at  the  same  time  dragged 
him  some  yards,  until  disengaged  by  his  companion,  who 
cut  the  lazo : they  then  tried  to  secure  their  animals,  but 
found  that  the  Araucanians  had  taken  off  all  the  best,  so  he 
did  not  make  much  by  the  invasion.  He  had  since  been 
employed  as  a ‘ manso  ’ or  tame  Indian  in  the  service  of  the 
Argentine  Government,  but  disliking  the  work  had  returned 
to  the  Pampas  and  married  a relation  of  Inacayal’s.  He 
was  a fine-looking  young  fellow,  neatly  dressed  in  ponchos 
made,  as  he  informed  me,  by  his  wife. 

On  the  following  day,  amidst  a storm  of  wind  and  rain, 
we  started  for  Las  Manzanas.  After  ascending  the  northern 
barrancas  of  the  river  valley,  we  traversed  a level  plain 
where  a hunting  circle  was  made  for  form  sake,  as  the 
ostriches  were  very  scarce,  and  I only  saw  one  killed  ; and 
passing  below,  or  rather  to  the  N.E.  of  the  hill  before 
mentioned,  descended  into  a valley  watered  by  a small 
stream ; this  we  followed  for  some  distance,  until  we  arrived 
at  a point  where  another  valley  opened  into  it,  the  two 


LAS  MANZANAS. 


239 


united  forming  one  of  considerable  width.  Here,  under  the 
shelter  of  some  trees,  we  halted  and  lit  fires  to  warm  our- 
selves, for  the  drenching  rain  had  by  this  time  thoroughly 
forced  its  way  through  our  mantles.  Whilst  conversing  and 
making  as  merry  as  possible  under  the  circumstances,  a 
messenger  dashed  up,  splashed  with  blood,  and  with  the 
effects  of  drink  or  furious  excitement  visible  in  his  face.  All 
crowded  round  to  hear  the  news,  and  he  shortly  informed 
us  that  the  party  who  had  started  to  obtain  apples  on  the 
previous  day  had  met  another  party  of  Indians  with  liquor. 
A drinking  bout  ensued,  and  a quarrel  occurred  in  which  a 
man  was  killed ; but  the  rest  went  on  drinking,  leaving  the 
body  outside,  where  the  dogs  made  a meal  of  it.  This  so 
exasperated  one  of  his  comrades  that  he  galloped  off  to 
Cheoeque,  to  whose  tribe  the  party  belonged,  and  the  chief 
at  once  sent  twenty-five  horsemen  to  surround  my  cousins 
and  demand  payment  for  the  death.  This  they  refused  to 
give,  so  a fight  took  place,  in  which  four  out  of  the  five 
brothers  and  another  were  left  for  dead,  with  lance  thrusts 
all  over  them,  the  youngest  escaping  on  his  own  or  some- 
body else’s  horse,  after  dropping  four  of  the  enemy  who 
tried  to  intercept  him,  with  a revolver  brought  by  me  from 
Santa  Cruz.  This  was  bad  news  for  us,  as  we  were  bound 
to  protect  these  people,  who  belonged  to  our  united  Indians. 
A consultation  took  place,  in  the  middle  of  which  Inacayal 
dashed  up  with  a party  all  well  armed  with  lances,  in  addi- 
tion to  their  other  arms.  Foyel’s  people  came  next,  eager 
for  the  fray;  the  Tehuelches,  however,  having  an  eye  to 
business,  in  the  way  of  bartering  the  mantles  they  had 
brought  with  them  for  trade,  overruled  the  warlike  ideas  of 
these  people,  saying  ‘ it  was  better  to  wait  a little.’  Mean- 
while guns  were  loaded  and  arms  got  ready,  and  a party 
were  being  told  off  to  proceed  to  the  scene  of  the  melee  and 
pick  up  the  wounded,  when  a messenger  arrived  from 
Cheoeque  with  proposals  of  a peace.  I and  the  rest  of  the 
relations  of  those  who  had  been  killed,  as  we  then  supposed, 


240 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


were  placed  under  a guard  of  Tekuelckes  for  a skort  time 
until  tke  party  started  to  find  tke  wounded  men.  We  tken 
all  proceeded  a skort  distance  down  tke  valley,  and  bivou- 
acked in  tke  pampa  grass  about  a mile  and  a kalf  from,  but 
out  of  sight  of,  tke  toldos  of  Ckeoeque.  Messengers  passed 
two  or  three  times  between  tke  latter’s  residence  and  our 
bivouac,  and  ultimately  a very  old  woman  came  over  and 
made  a long  oration  on  tke  benefits  of  peace.  This  was  all 
very  well,  but  as  both  parties  were  evidently  suspicious  of 
each  other,  a watch  was  kept  in  tke  event  of  a surprise ; 
and  as  we  thought  it  probable  that  the  negotiations  would 
fall  through,  we  spent  tke  night  skivering  round  tke  fires 
and  making  bolas  perdidas.  I assured  Quintuhual  and 
Casimiro  that  there  would  be  no  fight,  at  which  the  latter 
grew  very  irate,  saying  he  knew  better,  that  the  whole 
business  was  a trap  to  obtain  the  gear  and  firearms  of  our 
party,  also  stating  that  I did  not  understand  these  Indians, 
in  which  I differed  from  him.  Later  in  the  evening  news 
came  that,  although  fearfully  cut  about,  none  ©f  ‘ my  cousins’ 
were  dead ; the  opposite  party,  however,  had  fared  worse, 
losing  three  killed  outright.  For  six  men  to  fight  against 
twenty-five  seems  long  odds,  but  I believe  that  Quintuhual’s 
and  Foyel’ s people  are  the  bravest  Indians  to  be  met  with  in 
the  southern  part  of  America,  fully  deserving  the  proud  title 
of  ‘ the  Warrior  Indians.’ 

The  following  morning  at  daylight  all  mounted  their  best 
horses,  and  forming  into  column  of  six,  proceeded,  with  the 
lancers  of  the  warriors  at  our  head,  towards  the  toldos 
situated  in  a valley  running  at  right  angles  to  the  one  we 
had  rested  in  on  the  previous  night.  On  arriving  in  sight  of 
Ckeoeque’s  ancestral  halls,  we  observed  the  Araucanians  or 
Manzaneros  forming  into  line  and  manoeuvring  about  half  a 
mile  distant ; we  approached  to  within  300  yards,  and  then 
forming  into  open  line  to  display  our  whole  force  (my 
proposal  of  hiding  a reserve  behind  an  eminence  having  been 
overruled),  awaited  the  course  of  events.  Thus  we  remained 


LAS  MANZANAS. 


241 


about  half  an  hour  watching  the  Manzaneros,  who  presented 
a fine  appearance,  dressed  in  bright-coloured  ponchos  and 
armed  with  their  long  lances  ; they  manoeuvred  in  four 
squadrons,  each  with  a leader — from  whose  lance  fluttered  a 
small  pennon — moving  with  disciplined  precision,  and  form- 
ing line,  wheeling,  and  keeping  their  distances  in  a way  that 
would  not  have  discredited  regular  cavalry. 

At  the  end  of  the  half-hour’s  suspense  hostages  were  ex- 
changed, and  we  went  through  the  ceremony  of  welcome. 
The  Tehuelches  were  all  very  excited,  and  being  in  the 
middle  of  the  troop,  when  we  formed  column  and  raced  down 
towards  the  Manzaneros,  I at  first  thought  that  we  were  in 
for  a general  scrimmage.  On  arriving,  however,  at  the  line, 
our  leaders  wheeled  sharp  round,  and  we  went  through  the 
usual  routine,  with  the  unpleasant  exception  that  both  sides 
had  then-  guns  and  revolvers  loaded  with  ball,  and  every  now 
and  then  a bullet  would  whistle  past  one’s  ears  or  close  over 
our  heads.  After  the  usual  hand-shaking  between  the  chiefs, 
the  great  Cheoeque,  an  intelligent-looking  man  of  some 
thirty-five  years  of  age,  well  dressed  in  blue  cloth  ponchos, 
a hat,  and  leather  boots,  rode  down  our  line,  shaking  hands 
with  everybody  and  making  some  remark.  When  he  arrived 
at  my  number,  I felt  rather  ashamed  of  my  dress,  a simple 
mantle  not  in  a very  good  state  of  repair.  He,  on  his  side, 
having  asked  who  I was,  appeared  rather  astonished  at  hear- 
ing I was  an  Englishman,  and  having  been  further  informed 
that  I had  written  the  Spanish  letters  previously  sent  to 
him,  which  had  been  translated  by  a Valdivian,  stopped  for 
some  minutes  conversing  with  me.  After  this  a parlemento 
took  place,  during  which  all  remained  mounted,  and  the  dis- 
cussion lasted  till  sundown,  by  which  time  every  one  was  very 
hungry.  The  conclusions  arrived  at  related  chiefly  to  effect- 
ing a firm  and  lasting  peace  amongst  the  Indians  present,  on 
which  point  a happy  unanimity  prevailed.  Another  day  was 
appointed  for  the  discussion  of  Casimiro’s  proposition  for 
guarding  Patagones,  and  the  Chilian  war  with  the  Indians 

16 


224 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


farther  north ; also  to  consider  Calficura’s  message  concern- 
ing a raid  on  Bahia  Blanca,  and  the  Buenos  Ayrean  frontier 
generally. 

One  of  the  principal  persons  present  at  the  parlemento 
was  a chief  subordinate  to  Cheoeque,  named  Mafulko  ; a 
fine-looking  old  man,  magnificently  dressed  in  ponchos 
which,  as  well  as  his  arms,  were  profusely  ornamented,  in- 
deed almost  covered,  with  silver ; he  was  remarkable  for  a 
most  stentorian  voice,  which  when  raised  in  discussion  be- 
came an  absolute  roar,  as  of  a bull  of  Bashan.  He  after- 
wards noticed  me  particularly,  and  was  very  courteous, 
pressing  me  to  come  and  visit  him  in  his  own  country, 
which  lay  to  the  northward  of  the  Snowy  Mountain. 

In  his  train  was  a man  who  accosted  me  in  pure  Spanish, 
stating  that  he  had  read  and  translated  my  letter,  and 
warning  me  that  these  Indians  hated  the  name  of  Spaniard. 
Before  I could  make  any  inquiries  he  was  called  away  ; hut, 
when  in  Patagones,  questions  were  asked  as  to  an  unfortu- 
nate settler  who  was  a captive  and  slave  amongst  the  Arau- 
canians,  and  the  description  tallied  exactly  with  that  of  the 
poor  Spaniard.  His  master  was,  doubtless,  fearful  of  re- 
cognition and  mediation  on  my  part,  so  hastened  to  interrupt 
our  colloquy. 

We  dispersed  and  bivouacked  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
Cheoeque’s  toldos,  where  animals  were  lazoed  and  slain  for 
our  immediate  wants ; and  Manzaneros  and  Picunche  Indians 
came  round  bartering  piiiones,  apples,  and  now  and  then  a 
little  flour,  for  knives,  Lolas,  &c.  The  pinones  were  some 
in  husks  and  some  ready  husked,  the  white  almond-like 
kernels,  about  the  size  of  dates,  being  strung  on  threads  ; 
and,  whether  roasted  like  chestnuts  in  their  husks  or  boiled, 
proved  delicious.  The  apples  also  were  deliciously  fresh  and 
juicy,  and  I considered  a score  of  them  fairly  purchased  for 
a pair  of  bolas,  although  my  comrades  declared  I had  been 
cheated  by  the  Picunche  thieves. 

Towards  evening  Cheoeque  sent  over  to  say  that,  as  it 


LAS  MANZANAS. 


243 


was  late  and  disturbances  might  occur,  he  considered  it 
would  be  better  not  to  allow  any  liquor  to  be  sold  until  the 
following  day,  when  all  arms  might  be  stored  in  a safe  place, 
and  anybody  who  felt  disposed  to  get  drunk  might  do  so  with 
comfort.  To  this  Casimiro  agreed,  further  assuring  me,  in 
the  most  positive  manner,  that  lie  would  keep  sober.  Whilst 
we  were  sitting  by  the  fireside,  a bird,  exactly  resembling 
our  well-known  nightjar,  flew  over  our  heads,  uttering  its 
peculiar  grating  cry ; the  Indians  all  looked  startled,  assert- 
ing that  it  was  a sign  of  ill  luck,  and  that  whenever  this 
bird  croaked  in  the  vicinity  of  an  assembly  of  people  some 
one  was  sure  to  fall  sick  or  die.  Them  superstitious  belief 
in  the  ill-omened  bird  received  a confirmation,  for  in  the 
middle  of  the  night,  while  asleep  by  the  fire,  I was  roused 
by  Graviel,  who,  shaking  my  arm  and  shouting  * Let  us  go, 
let  us  go  ! ’ x’ushed  away  from  the  firelight  into  the  dark 
night.  His  father  and  myself  followed  him,  and  after  a long 
chase  caught  and,  with  difficulty,  mastered  him.  He  was 
raving  mad,  struggling  violently,  and  vociferating  incoherent 
nonsense.  When  the  fit  had  passed  off,  his  exhaustion  and 
prostration  were  so  great  that  all  thought  he  would  die ; 
but  he  recovered  for  the  time. 

At  break  of  day  we  were  all  on  the  alert ; and  as  the 
evening  previously  we  had  been  too  tired  and  hungry  to 
observe  the  scenery,  I proceeded  to  reconnoitre  the  locality 
generally.  To  my  great  surprise,  the  head-quarters  of 
Cheoeque  consisted  but  of  four  toldos,  belonging  to  the  chief 
and  his  brother-in-law,  the  men  who  had  received  us  having 
come  from  distant  residences  unaccompanied  by  their  wives, 
and  bivouacking,  like  ourselves,  in  the  open  air.  The  scene 
of  the  encampment  was  a valley  running  east  and  west,  the 
western  end  being  apparently  shut  in  by  some  high  moun- 
tains, spurs  of  the  Cordillera.  A good  stream  watered  this 
valley,  which  was  everywhere  more  or  less  wooded  : away  to 
the  north-west,  about  four  miles  distant,  the  apple-groves 
might  be  seen ; these  trees  had,  however,  already  been 


244 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


stripped  of  fruit,  and  it  was  necessary  to  proceed  much 
farther  to  the  north  to  procure  any  ; but  an  expedition  to 
visit  that  district  and  to  get  fruit,  planned  by  Orkeke, 
Hinchel,  myself,  and  others,  proved  impracticable.  Beyond 
the  apple-groves  the  place  was  also  pointed  out  where  the 
araucarias  grow,  from  which  the  pihones  are  gathered,  just 
below  the  snow-clad  mountains  we  had  viewed  from  the 
ridge  above  the  Rio  Limay,  and  about  thirty  miles  distant. 

In  our  valley  the  pasture  was  rather  scanty,  although 
there  appeared  to  be  sufficient  for  the  three  flocks  of  small 
sheep,  each  owned  by  one  of  Cheoeque’s  wives,  to  get  into 
good  condition  ; but  sheep  will  feed  anywhere.  Immediately 
behind  the  toldos  was  situated  a corral  for  enclosing  cattle, 
none  of  which,  however,  were  visible,  having,  probably,  been 
driven  off  to  some  secluded  valley  near  at  hand,  to  avoid 
giving  our  people  a chance  of  helping  themselves.  Round 
this  corral  were  grouped  the  Indians  of  Cheoeque’s  tribe, 
and  the  Picunches  with  fruit,  &c.,  to  barter ; and  between 
the  corral  and  the  river  lay  the  bivouac  of  the  Tehuelches ; 
our  fireside  being  denoted  by  Casimiro’s  flag,  the  colours  of 
the  Argentine  Confederation.  Up  and  down  the  valley,  and 
even  about  the  neighbouring  hills,  were  scattered  our  horses. 
Proceeding  to  inspect  the  toldos,  at  which  I had  given  but  a 
cursory  glance  the  night  before,  I found  that  they  were  all 
fixed  dwellings  ; that  is  to  say,  not  put  together  so  as  to 
be  moved  in  marches,  like  those  of  the  Patagonians.  They 
were,  indeed,  constructed  in  the  same  manner,  but  the  poles 
were  much  stouter,  and  the  whole  edifice  more  resembled  a 
house. 

Cheoeque’s  toldo  was  quite  sixteen  feet  high,  and  able  to 
accommodate  forty  men ; while  three  fires  of  huge  billets 
of  wood  burned  in  the  front  part.  It  was  closed  in  com- 
pletely, except  a doorway  in  the  corner  with  a skin  curtain 
by  way  of  door  ; and  along  the  front  ran  a species  of 
verandah,  composed  of  interwoven  branches,  forming  a 
pleasant  canopy,  under  the  shade  of  which  we  sat  and 


LAS  M AN Z AN  AS. 


245 


smoked.  Inside,  the  bed-places  were  raised  on  timber  ; and 
altogether,  what  with  the  sheep,  corral,  &c.,  the  place  had 
such  an  air  of  civilization  about  it  that,  with  a small  effort  of 
imagination,  one  might  have  fancied  oneself  in  a frontier 
estancia  of  the  settlements.  There  were  other  toldos  hidden 
amongst  the  trees  on  the  northern  side  of  the  valley,  but 
these  I did  not  visit. 

About  eight  o’clock  several  loaded  horses  came  in  sight, 
bringing  the  liquor  which  had  been  stowed  away  in  the 
valley  in  which  we  had  encamped  the  night  after  the  disturb- 
ance. As  soon  as  the  jars  and  skins  had  been  unloaded  in 
Cheoeque’s  toldo,  an  order  was  passed  round  for  all  arms 
to  be  given  up,  and  after  some  little  difficulty  they  were 
nearly  all  collected  and  stowed  in  a safe  place.  The  chiefs 
were  then  formally  invited  to  drink,  and  subsequently  all 
comers  were  asked,  the  liquor  being  provided  in  a most 
liberal  manner  by  Cheoeque.  This  chief  was  fully  conscious 
of  his  high  position  and  power ; his  round,  jolly  face,  the 
complexion  of  which,  inherited  from  his  Tehuelche  mother, 
is  darker  than  that  of  his  subjects,  exhibited  a lurking 
cunning,  and  his  frequent  laughter  was  rather  sardonic.  He 
possessed  a regally  strong  head,  and  was  disposed  to  despise 
Casimiro  for  his  inebriety ; in  fact,  it  was  plain  that  he  re- 
garded himself,  and  not  without  reason,  as  superior  to  all  the 
caciques,  even  though  they  were  not  subject  to  him. 

Hinchel,  myself,  and  many  of  the  Araucanians  had  re- 
mained away;  and  I was  proceeding  to  look  up  the  horses, 
when  I was  called  to  the  corral  by  some  of  the  Picunches. 
These  men  presented  a cast  of  countenance  decidedly  differ- 
ing from,  and  much  inferior  to,  that  of  the  Araucanians, 
from  whom  they  were  easily  distinguished  by  their  darker 
complexions ; but  they  were  very  courteous,  asking  how  I 
ame  to  be  with  the  Tehuelches,  and  what  sort  of  a place 
my  country  was ; and  were  pleased  when  I told  them  it 
was  hilly  and  well  wooded,  and,  referring  to  Devonshire, 
that  apples  abounded.  Of  course  all  our  conversation  was 


246 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


carried  on  by  means  of  an  interpreter  (a  Valdivian).  After 
a few  more  questions,  some  rum  was  produced,  and  having 
taken  a glass  I mounted  and  proceeded  on  my  original  quest. 
Hinchel  rode  a part  of  the  way  with  me,  as  he  was  bound  in 
search  of  a former  acquaintance,  whose  toldo  was  pitched 
about  four  leagues  distant,  and  who  was,  he  said,  the  best 
worker  in  silver  amongst  the  Indians.  I afterwards  saw 
specimens  of  his  handiwork,  in  the  shape  of  silver  tubes  for 
ornamenting  stirrup-leathers,  and  the  appearance  of  these 
and  other  silver  ornaments  made  of  solid  metal  in  peculiar 
patterns,  evidently  of  their  own  devising,  left  little  doubt  in 
my  mind  that  these  Indians,  or  some  of  the  neighbouring 
tribes,  possess  the  knowledge  of  the  places  whence  the 
precious  ore  is  to  be  obtained,  and  smelt  it  themselves. 

On  returning,  after  having  counted  and  driven  the  troop  of 
horses  belonging  to  our  party  down  to  the  best  pasture,  I 
found  that  Cheoeque  had  sent  several  messengers  in  search 
of  me,  so  I at  once  proceeded  to  his  toldo,  where  I found  him 
and  Mariano  Linares  sitting  on  two  real  chairs,  the  latter 
playing  a guitar,  Casimiro  slightly  inebriated  and  vowing 
eternal  friendship,  and  howling  Indians,  men  and  women,  in 
various  stages  of  intoxication,  all  round.  Cheoeque  shook 
hands,  invited  me  to  a seat,  and  provided  me  with  a glass  of 
grog  out  of  his  own  bottle,  which  it  is  needless  to  say  was 
not  watered  like  the  remainder.  I then  took  advantage  of  a 
slight  confusion  occasioned  by  an  Indian  wishing  to  embrace 
Cheoeque,  and  retired,  but  was  intercepted,  and  had  to  drink 
with  various  acquaintances  before  reaching  the  bivouac. 
As  our  fireside  was  soon  occupied  by  noisy,  half-drunken 
Indians,  amongst  others  Hinchel’s  son,  who,  very  drunk,  had 
come  to  get  his  gun  for  the  purpose  of  killing  the  master  of 
the  revels,  but  was  fortunately  overthrown  and  bound  down 
by  his  father,  who  opportunely  arrived,  I retired  to  Foyel’s 
bivouac,  where  Gravino  and  others  were  keeping  guard,  to 
be  in  readiness  to  look  after  their  chief.  He  arrived  soon 
after  midnight,  much  to  their  relief. 


LAS  M AN Z AN  AS. 


247 


The  jealousy  existing  between  Foyel  and  Cheoeque,  which 
had  broken  out  in  the  disturbance  so  nearly  fatal  to  my 
cousins,  had  existed  ever  since  the  migration  of  this  chief 
and  Quintuhual  to  the  south,  and  all  the  Araucanos  of  their 
following  kept  themselves  on  this  occasion  as  much  as  possible 
aloof,  and  abstained  from  sharing  in  the  jovialities,  while  the 
Tehuelches,  who  were  unconcerned  in  the  matter,  enjoyed 
themselves  freely. 

The  next  day  Foyel  and  Quintuhual  marched  off  their 
followers  in  regular  array,  and  proceeded  homewards  followed 
by  many  of  the  Tehuelches,  the  great  races  which  it  had 
beer,  settled  to  hold  being  abandoned  in  consequence  of  the 
uneasy  state  of  feeling  and  the  consequent  fears  of  a quarrel  : 
the  fight  in  that  case  would  have  been  an  obstinate  one,  as 
Cheoeque’s  forces  would  not  have  been  much  too  strong  for 
their  opponents,  although  outnumbering  them.  We  had 
beer  surprised  on  arriving  not  to  find  more  Indians  ready  to 
receive  us,  as  we  only  counted  ninety  lances,  but  it  transpired 
that  some  were  concealed  in  the  woods  by  the  side  of  the 
river,  who  did  not  appear  ; besides  these,  seventy  or  a hundred 
men  had  gone  to  Patagones  to  obtain  their  chiefs  ration 
of  cattle,  but  200  more,  friends  and  relations  of  Foyel,  who 
were  on  their  march  to  the  rendezvous  at  Las  Manzanas,  had 
turned  back  on  hearing  of  the  attack  made  by  Cheoeque’s 
party  on  their  friends,  my  cousins.  Whether  they  remained 
away  in  order  to  be  neutral  or  to  come  to  the  support  of  their 
kinsmen  did  not  appear,  but  Foyel  had  frequently  boasted 
that  200  of  Cheoeque’s  followers  would  espouse  his  quarrel. 
The  Picunches  were  the  original  cause  of  the  feud.  This 
tribe,  asserted  by  Antonio  Guaitu,  who  gave  them  the  name 
of  Chollo,  to  be  a branch  of  the  Araucanians,  are  under 
Cheoeque’s  dominion,  though  governed  by  local  caciques. 
As  already  mentioned,  they  live  near  the  passes  of  the 
Cordillera  and  plunder  all  travellers.  They  had  not  respected 
Foyel’s  messenger  bringing  him  stores  from  Valdivia,  and  at 
last  forcibly  annexed  two  sheepskins  of  rum,  on  which 


248 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PA  TAG  ONI  A NS. 


occasion  some  fighting  ensued.  Thereupon  Foyel  sent 
Cheoeque  a defiant  message  to  the  effect  that  if  any  more 
robberies  by  his  subjects  took  place,  he  should  make  reprisals  ; 
that  the  latter  chief  must  have  imagined  that  he  (Foyel)  had 
forgotten  how  to  ride  and  use  his  lance.  All  this  was  sub- 
sequently amicably  settled,  hut  in  the  end  Foyel,  who  was  by 
right  under  the  rule  of  Cheoeque,  preferred  to  throw  ofi  his 
allegiance  and  retire  across  the  Rio  Limay.  The  chief  reason 
alleged  by  him  was  that  although  Cheoeque  received  large 
rations  of  cattle  from  the  Buenos  Ayrean  Government,  he 
never  thought  fit  to  share  them  with  his  subordinate  chiefs. 
How  far  these  stories  were  true  I cannot  say ; as  to  the 
Picunches  and  them  subjection  to  Cheoeque,  the  Yaldivians 
had  been  detained  over  a year  waiting  for  a safe-conduct, 
which  was  obtained  on  the  eve  of  our  arrival,  and  as  far 
as  could  be  afterwards  ascertained,  they  passed  unmolested, 
although  probably  suffering  loss  of  cattle  from  the  weafher, 
as  it  was  full  late  in  the  year  to  cross  the  passes,  which 
during  the  winter  are  obstructed  by  snow  and  swollen  rivers. 

Antonio  and  Ventura  Delgado  assured  me  that  they  would 
have  to  cross  one  river  seven  times  owing  to  its  tortuous 
windings,  and  on  every  occasion  he  obliged  to  swim  then- 
animals.  This  I had  first  fancied  to  be  a branch  of  the  Rio 
Limay,  but  in  answer  to  other  inquiries  the  Yaldivians 
stated  that  it  flowed  to  the  westward.  Apropos  of  this 
route,  an  enterprising  German  had  some  short  time  pre- 
viously crossed  from  Valdivia  to  trade  with  the  Indians ; he 
was  allowed  to  pass  unmolested  with  all  his  merchandise,  and 
drove  a profitable  trade,  and  at  last  started  on  his  return 
journey  with  a goodly  stock  of  horses  and  gear,  but  near 
the  passes  he  was  stripped  of  everything  and  left  to  make  his 
way  homewards  on  foot  if  possible.  It  was  very  tantalizing 
to  be  so  near  Valdivia  and  not  to  be  able  to  explore  the 
route  thither  and  visit  the  Picunches,  and  indeed  Casimiro 
and  myself  had  planned  a trip  from  Las  Manzanas,  but  it 
was  abandoned,  owing  to  the  lateness  of  the  season  and 


LAS  MANZANAS. 


249 


other  circumstances,  combined  with  my  own  conviction  that 
if  the  cacique  got  into  Valdivia  he  would  not  be  able  to  tear 
himself  away  from  civilized  pleasures  for  a long  period. 

After  the  drinking  bout  and  the  departure  of  Foyel’s  party, 
a day  devoted  to  trading  intervened,  political  discussions 
being  postponed  in  consequence  of  the  indisposition  of 
Casimiro,  who  required  twenty-four  hours  to  recover  from 
the  effects  of  Cheoeque’s  hospitality.  Our  Tehuelches, 
thanks  to  the  profuse  generosity  of  Cheoeque,  disposed  of 
all  their  wares  to  advantage,  and  became  the  happy  pos- 
sessors of  numerous  horses,  silver  ornaments,  and  mandils. 
Had  it  been  necessary  for  them  to  purchase  liquor,  they 
would  have  returned  empty-handed  and  in  bad  tempers. 
The  Manzaneros  appeared  to  depend  on  the  Tehuelches  for 
then-  supply  of  toldo  coverings,  just  as  the  latter  in  their  turn 
must  procure  from  them  the  woven  mandils  and  ponchos.  I 
noticed  that  the  horses  brought  up  for  sale  by  the  Manza- 
neros more  resembled  those  used  in  the  Argentine  States 
than  the  breed  common  amongst  the  Tehuelches,  showing 
finer  points  and  greater  speed  for  racing  on  flats,  but  being 
inferior  in  the  staying  powers  requisite  for  hunting. 

The  second  parlemento  or  council,  attended  by  numerous 
chiefs,  was  duly  held,  in  which  Mariano  Linares,  brother  of 
the  chief  of  the  Indians  in  pay  of  the  Government,  parti- 
cipated. He  was  a connection  by  marriage  of  Cheoeque’s, 
and  had  been  despatched  from  Patagones  to  induce  him  to 
keep  the  peace.  The  speeches  of  the  Araucanos  were  made 
in  a peculiar  chant,  intoned  in  fact,  in  a manner  closely  re- 
sembling that  I have  since  heard  in  some  churches  at  home. 
Cheoeque  thus  intoned  a harangue,  setting  forth  how  chiefs 
had  come  to  him  from  Araucania  proper,  soliciting  his  aid  in 
the  war  with  Chili.  He  had  at  first  refused  to  receive  them, 
but  at  last  had  heard  what  they  had  to  say,  and  it  was  pro- 
bable that  he  might  send  a small  force  to  assist  his  country- 
men. 

Calficura's  message  relating  to  the  foray  on  the  settlements 


250 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


had  been  forwarded  to  us  already.  Many  speeches  were 
made,  and  Linares  and  Casimiro  pointed  out  that  it  was  to 
the  cacique’s  interest  not  to  interfere,  as  he  would  inevitably 
lose  the  valuable  supplies  of  horses  and  cattle  given  him  by 
the  Buenos  Ayrean  Government,  and  that  it  was  more  pro- 
fitable to  receive  the  annual  rations  than  plunder  and  break 
up  the  Bio  Negro  settlements.  Finally,  it  was  unanimously 
resolved  that  a message  should  be  sent  to  Calficura,  desiring 
him  to  confine  his  hostilities  to  Bahia  Blanca,  and  that  Cheo- 
eque  should  protect  the  north  bank  of  the  Rio  Negro  and 
guard  Patagones  on  that  side,  while  Casimiro  guaranteed  the 
southern,  which  arrangement  was  duly  adhered  to  on  both 
sides.  Accordingly  Calficura  revenged  his  real  or  supposed 
injuries  on  the  ‘ Cristianos  ’ by  two  destructive  inroads  into 
Bahia  Blanca,  carrying  off  plunder  and  captives.  But  letters 
from  the  Rio  Negro  have  informed  me  that  peace  had  been 
restored,  and  an  exchange  or  ransom  of  prisoners  effected. 
This  will  be  more  fully  dwelt  upon,  but  it  is  mentioned  here 
in  order  to  show  that  the  Indians  are  fully  aware  of  the 
advantages  of  peace,  though  they  are  undoubtedly — the 
Araucanians  especially — jealous  of  the  encroachments  of 
foreigners,  and  the  traditions  of  their  past  history  have 
caused  them  to  hold  the  very  name  of  Spaniard  or 
* Cristiano  ’ in  abhorrence.  It  is  also  difficult  for  the 
superior  caciques  in  all  cases  to  restrain  the  petty  caciquillos 
from  small  depredations ; but  a fair  and  well-arranged 
system  of  ‘ rations  ’ will  prevent  them  from  making  forays, 
and  it  is  much  to  be  regretted  that  the  well-intentioned  and 
liberal  plans  of  the  Buenos  Ayrean  Government  for  the 
protection  of  the  frontiers  are  too  often  thwarted  by  the  un- 
scrupulous agents  who  enrich  themselves  by  appropriating 
the  supplies  intended  for  the  Indians.  Some  may  consider 
the  method  of  keeping  the  chiefs  quiet  by  pensions  un- 
dignified ; but  it  is  certainly  a more  humane  and  economical 
policy  than  continual  wars  of  reprisals,  which  in  the  end 
would  lead  to  the  extermination  either  of  the  Indians  or 


LAS  MANZANAS. 


251 


the  settlers,  most  probably  the  latter,  and  the  certain  im- 
poverishing of  the  country. 

After  the  parlemento  a grand  banquet  was  given  by 
Cbeoeque  to  all  the  assembled  caciques  and  their  sons. 
Over  three  huge  fires  in  bis  spacious  toldo,  large  iron  pots 
were  supported  on  tripods,  containing  beef,  mutton,  and 
horse-flesh.  The  guests  sat  down  as  they  could,  while 
Cheoeque  sat,  as  the  Spaniards  says,  ‘ on  horseback  ’ on  a 
chair  in  the  middle  of  the  toldo,  dressed  in  a magnificent  cat- 
skin  mantle,  and  holding  a ‘ revengue  ’ or  hide  whip  in  his 
hand,  with  which  he  ever  and  anon  chastised  an  intrusive 
dog,  or  even  one  of  his  numerous  sons  if  they  came  too 
near,  or  made  too  much  noise. 

The  small  hoys  were  evidently  used  to  it,  and  showed 
great  agility  in  avoiding  a blow,  and  equal  unconcern  if  they 
received  it.  The  chief’s  three  wives  presided  at  the  fires, 
and  wooden  platters  loaded  with  large  portions  of  meat  and 
a due  allowance  of  fat  were  handed  round  for  the  first  course. 
Each  guest  was  expected  to  consume  all  that  was  in  the 
platter,  and  when  cleared  it  was  carried  off,  washed,  and  re- 
filled for  another.  The  second  course  consisted  of  apples 
and  pinones,  raw  or  cooked  according  to  taste,  and  it  was 
strict  etiquette  to  eat  or  pocket  all  the  fruit  supplied. 
Water  was  handed  round  after  the  feed,  no  other  drink 
being  produced  save  a private  bottle,  from  which  the  chief 
helped  two  or  three  of  his  most  favoured  guests.  There  must 
have  been  at  least  thirty  present  at  once,  and  there  were 
ample  room  and  abundant  supplies.  And  subsequently  a 
succession  of  guests  of  less  distinction  were  fed  ; all  the 
Tehuelches  as  well  as  Araucanos  and  Picunches  being  main- 
tained during  their  stay  by  the  chief. 

I was  very  much  struck  with  the  obedience  and  respect 
evinced  by  these  people  towards  their  cacique.  His  autho- 
rity extends  as  far  north  as  Mendoza,  over  hundreds  of 
Indians,  residing  in  fixed  tolderias,  some  few  in  the  valley 
near  Manzanas,  but  the  chief  part  more  to  the  northward, 


252 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


near  the  groves  of  araucarias.  But  the  power  of  the  chief 
is  absolute,  and  his  word  is  law  to  his  most  distant  subjects. 
At  an  order  from  him  they  leave  their  toldos,  wives,  and 
children,  and  repair  mounted,  and  ready  for  any  service,  to 
his  head-quarters.  His  wealth  is  considerable  : besides  the 
numerous  flocks  and  herds,  one  of  the  toldos  was  used 
simply  as  a treasury,  where  his  stores  of  silver  ornaments, 
ponchos,  mantles,  &c.,  were  safely  stowed  away. 

I was  present  in  his  toldo  at  the  arrival  of  a messenger. 
The  Indian,  who  had  evidently  come  from  a long  distance, 
did  not  venture  to  enter  until  commanded  to  do  so,  when, 
with  the  utmost  respect,  he  took  his  seat  at  a distance  from 
the  chief,  communicated  his  message,  received  his  orders, 
and  retired ; when  again  ready  for  the  road  he  appeared  to 
receive  final  instructions,  after  which  he  mounted  his  horse 
and  rode  off  without  more  ado. 

The  subordinate  caciques,  whose  office  and  rank  are 
hereditary,  appeared  to  be  finer  and  more  intelligent  men 
than  the  rank  and  file.  Whether  this  was  owing  to  a dif- 
ference of  race,  or  merely  to  their  aristocratic  descent  and 
hereditary  refinement  of  features  and  bearing,  I cannot  say ; 
but  their  superiority  was  very  marked  ; whereas  among  the 
Tehuelches  no  such  difference  between  the  caciques  and 
then-  clansmen  is  observable.  The  superiority  of  these  semi- 
civilized  Araucanos  to  their  southern  neighbours  was 
evident  in  every  way,  save  only  bodily  strength.  Their 
residence  in  a more  fertile  country,  near  the  apple  and 
araucaria  groves,  gives  them  great  advantages  over  the 
nomad  Patagonians.  They  cultivate  wheat,  small  quantities 
of  which  were  brought  to  us  for  sale  ; besides  storing  the 
natural  harvest  of  pihones  and  apples,  from  which,  as  before 
stated,  they  brew  cider  of  unusual  strength,  and  also  distil 
‘pulco,’  an  intoxicating  liquor,  from  the  algarroba  bean.  My 
intercourse  with  both  Foyel’s  people  and  those  at  Manzanas 
was  not  sufficiently  long  to  enable  me  to  become  conversant 
with  their  language  and  customs,  which  have  been  described 


LAS  MANZANAS. 


253 


by  others.  The  language,  of  which  I learnt  a few  words, 
seemed  softer  and  more  melodious,  as  well  as  possessing  a 
more  copious  vocabulary,  than  the  guttural  Tehuelche,  and 
appeared  to  me  closely  akin  to  the  Pampa  tongue;  but 
Jackechan,  who  could  speak  both,  and  Gravino,  strongly 
insisted  on  the  distinction  between  the  two  dialects.  Their 
personal  habits  were  excessively  neat  and  cleanly,  the  morn- 
ing bath  never  being  omitted  by  men,  women,  and  children, 
who  all  regularly  trooped  down  to  the  water  just  before  dawn ; 
and  them  dress  was  much  more  carefully  attended  to  than 
that  of  the  Patagonians.  I had  no  opportunity  of  witness- 
ing their  religious  ceremonies,  but  was  assured  that  they  are 
worshippers  of  the  sun,  and  there  was  no  vestige  of  idols  of 
any  sort  possessed  by  them.  Their  ceremonials  on  occasions 
of  births,  &c.,  were  very  similar  to  those  of  the  Tehuelches, 
save  that  the  ‘ doctor  ’ appeared  on  such  occasions  more 
elaborately  adorned  with  various  colours. 

When  Quintuhual’s  niece  was  sick,  her  brother  enacted 
the  part  of  ‘ wizard,’  duly  painted  and  adorned  with  a head- 
dress of  feathers.  Instead  of  a mandil  tent,  a screen  of 
ponchos  hung  over  posts  was  erected,  and  all  the  finery  of 
the  family  displayed.  I was  a guest  at  the  feast  of  slaughtered 
mares,  but  was  not  present  at  the  previous  proceedings,  as 
by  this  time  the  restraints  of  dignity  as  a caciquillo  forbade 
my  wandering  about  as  an  idle  spectator. 

They  were  invariably  scrupulous  not  to  commence  a meal 
without  first  throwing  broth  or  a small  piece  of  meat  on  the 
ground,  at  the  same  time  muttering  a charm  to  propitiate 
the  Gualichu,  and  they  are  generally  more  superstitious 
and  more  fearful  of  witchcraft  than  even  the  other  Indians. 
They  have  some  knowledge  of  precious  stones,  and  seem  to 
attribute  certain  virtues  to  them.  Thus  Foyel  possessed 
what  seemed  to  be  a magnificent  rough  turquoise,  which  he 
was  on  the  point  of  bestowing  on  me,  when  his  wife  and 
brother-in-law  interposed  some  remark,  upon  which  he 
apologised,  saying  that  he  did  not  like  to  part  with  it,  as  it 


254 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


had  been  long  in  the  family.  They  object  strongly,  how- 
ever, to  any  strangers  picking  up  stones  as  specimens, 
or  appearing  to  ( prospect  ’ in  any  way,  which,  being  fore- 
warned by  Ventura  Delgado,  I was  especially  careful  to 
avoid.  Mons.  Guinnard  has  given  a description  of  some  of 
their  games,  differing  from  those  in  vogue  among  the 
Tehuelches,  as  for  instance  gambling  with  black  and  white 
beans.  Casimiro  is  my  authority  for  stating  that  this  people 
preserve  the  singular  custom  of  abduction  in  marriage.  The 
intending  bridegroom  does  not  trouble  himself  to  obtain  the 
consent  of  the  bride,  but  having  paid  the  fixed  dowry  or 
price  to  her  parents,  he  gallops  up,  and  forcibly  seizing  the 
girl  carries  her  off  before  him  to  the  bush,  whence,  after  an 
enforced  honeymoon  of  two  days,  they  return  as  man  and 
wife  to  his  dwelling.  This,  however,  is  not  the  practice  in 
the  case  of  the  marriage  of  a cacique’s  daughters.  Polygamy 
is  allowable  ; thus  the  great  Cheoeque  possessed  three  wives, 
the  chief  favourite,  whose  amiable  good-humour  deserved  the 
honour,  occupying  the  central  place  in  the  toldo ; but  all 
three  lived  in  perfect  harmony  and  took  care  of  each  other’s 
children  with  impartial  affection. 

These  Araucanos  are,  as  I have  said,  apt  to  kidnap  or  buy 
captives,  and  I am  inclined  to  suspect  that  there  is  a scarcity 
of  women  amongst  them,  of  which  the  exterminating  cruel- 
ties practised  towards  women  and  children  by  the  frontier 
‘ Cristianos’  is  a probable  cause.  They  are  certainly  more 
dangerous  to  strangers  than  the  Southern  Indians,  and  it  is 
unsafe  to  venture  amongst  them  without  proper  safe  con- 
ducts from  the  cacique. 

To  myself  Cheoeque  offered  permission  to  travel  directly 
north  through  the  interior  of  the  country  as  far  as  the 
Argentine  Provinces,  guaranteeing  my  safety ; and  the 
temptation  was  only  resisted  by  reflecting  on  the  necessity 
of  keeping  faith  with  my  Tehuelche  friends  by  proceeding 
to  Patagones.  He  also  gave  me  a cordial  invitation  to 
return,  and  an  assurance  that  I should  be  always  welcomed 


LAS  MANZANAS. 


255 


as  a friend.  All  our  business,  both  commercial  and  political, 
being  concluded,  and  the  farewell  banquet  over,  Cheoeque 
distributed  gifts  of  horses,  &c.,  among  the  Tehuelches  in 
return  for  the  numerous  presents  he  had  received  from  them. 
As  a set-off  to  a set  of  gold  studs,  he  presented  me  with 
one  of  the  peculiar  lances  always  used  by  his  people,  about 
fifteen  to  eighteen  feet  long  and  very  light,  the  shaft  being 
made  of  a cane,  which  grows  in  the  Cordillera  forests, 
strongly  resembling  a bamboo,  and  of  the  thickness  of  the 
butt  of  a stout  pike  rod.  This  present,  by  the  way,  caused 
me  to  commit  a breach  of  etiquette.  I placed  it  leaning 
against  the  toldo,  and  was  at  once  requested  to  remove  it, 
as  it  was  a sign  of  war,  though  whether  it  was  regarded  as 
a challenge  or  an  omen  was  not  clear  ; but  I was  instructed 
that  the  lance  must  either  be  laid  down  on  or  planted  upright 
in  the  ground.  Another  lance  was  also  bestowed  on  Casimiro, 
besides  numerous  horses  and  other  valuables.  We  took  leave 
of  the  powerful  Cheoeque,  and  of  Linares,  with  whom,  as  it 
had  been  settled  that  I should  proceed  as  chasqui,  I made  an 
agreement  to  meet  in  Patagones,  and  on  the  11th  started  on 
our  return  to  the  toldos,  all  in  high  satisfaction  at  the  success 
of  our  visit.  The  natural  exultation  of  Casimiro  was  much 
lessened  by  the  continual  illness  of  his  son  Gravid,  on  whom 
a careful  watch  had  to  be  kept  to  restrain  him,  in  the  event 
of  his  being  attacked  by  another  paroxysm  of  madness. 

Riding  up  the  valley  where  we  had  slept  the  night  pre- 
vious to  arriving  at  Cheoeque’s,  we  observed  some  cattle  in 
the  thickets  on  the  borders  of  the  stream  ; part  of  the  herd 
belonging  to  the  chief,  which  had  been  stowed  away  in 
various  secluded  parts  of  the  neighbourhood.  We  crossed 
the  barren  high  pampa,  and  descended,  about  one  o’clock, 
to  the  banks  of  the  Rio  Limay,  bivouacing  in  the  same 
spot  as  on  our  journey  to  Las  Manzanas,  close  to  Inacayal’s 
toldos.  Here  we  found  Orkeke  and  a good  many  other 
Tehuelches  ; also  the  four  wounded  men,  two  of  whom  were 
already  on  the  highroad  to  recovery. 


256 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


We  proceeded  to  Inacayal’s  toldo  at  his  personal  request, 
where  we  remained  until  evening  was  drawing  on,  when 
cattle  were  brought  up,  caught  and  slain,  and  divided 
amongst  the  chiefs.  Whilst  busy  shaving  a piece  of  hide 
wherewith  to  make  some  gear,  I received  a message  from 
Orkeke,  whose  fire  was  situated  at  perhaps  a hundred  paces 
from  ours,  that  he  wished  to  see  me  when  disengaged,  and 
after  supper  I strolled  down,  and  found  the  veteran  sitting 
loading  his  pipe.  After  a smoke,  he  invited  me  to  accom- 
pany him  to  inspect  his  newly-acquired  troop  of  horses,  and 
show  him  which  I considered  to  be  the  best.  I picked  out 
a young  white  animal  that  had  belonged  to  Cheoeque’s  own 
stud.  ‘ Very  well,’  he  replied,  ‘ take  him  ; he  is  yours  ; I 
never  made  you  any  return  for  the  revolver  you  gave  me  in 
Teckel.’  Although  I did  not  require  the  horse,  it  would 
have  been  insulting  to  refuse  it,  so  I walked  off  -with  my 
racer  in  tow.  This  little  incident  is  mentioned  to  correct 
the  notion  entertained  by  some  that  the  greed  of  gain  is  a 
predominant,  feature  in  the  Indian  character. 

The  following  morning  we  bid  adieu  to  Inacayal  and  his 
people,  and  turned  our  horses’  heads  for  the  pass  of  the 
river  Limay,  which  was  if  possible  more  swollen  and  rapid 
than  on  the  previous  occasion  ; but  we  all  crossed  in  safety, 
although  Casimiro’s  and  my  horse  fell  once,  fortunately 
where  the  water  was  shallow.  Everybody,  however,  got 
thoroughly  wet,  and  a continual  downfall  of  rain  coming  on, 
prevented  all  chance  of  drying  our  mantles.  We  marched 
hack  by  a route  lying  to  the  westward  of  that  we  had  before 
followed,  passing  under  and  amongst  the  high  wooded 
mountains,  on  the  heights  of  which  every  now  and  then  we 
could  perceive  a condor  sitting  in  majestic  solitude,  looking 
down  on  us  like  a priest  from  a pulpit. 

About  four  p.m.  the  rain  cleared  off,  and  we  bivouaced  in 
a grassy  valley,  with  incense  and  other  bushes  growing  on 
the  sides.  Here,  owing  to  the  sickness  of  Graviel  and 
another  of  our  party,  we  passed  a miserable  time,  not  even 


LAS  M AN Z AN  AS. 


257 


being  able  to  get  dry ; and  in  addition  to  our  previous  dis- 
comfort, towards  evening  a frost  set  in,  and  when  I woke  up 
about  midnight  to  look  round  for  the  horses  my  mantle  was 
like  a board. 

I kindled  a fire,  as  the  weather  was  now  clear,  and  soon 
all  the  party  were  huddled  round  it  to  warm  their  half-frozen 
limbs  before  lying  down  again. 

The  next  morning  at  daylight,  thoroughly  chilled  and 
hungry,  two  of  us  started  to  fetch  the  horses,  some  of  the 
new  ones  having,  as  we  expected,  found  their  way  back  to 
within  a few  miles  of  the  Rio  Limay.  However,  by  the 
time  the  sun  had  risen  to  sufficient  height  to  give  some 
warmth,  we  had  caught  up  the  others  of  our  party,  and  not 
sparing  our  horses,  by  two  o’clock  had  passed  through  the 
street  of  rocks  and  come  in  sight  of  the  toldos,  where  we 
shortly  arrived. 

Before  sunset  all  the  Teheulches  had  returned  to  the 
bosoms  of  their  families,  and  all  were  glad  to  sleep  under  the 
shelter  of  a toldo  once  more,  after  having  passed  twelve  days 
and  nights  in  stormy  weather  without  any  covering  save  our 
mantles. 

The  14th  of  April,  the  morning  after  our  return,  a com- 
plaint was  made  by  Foyel’s  people  that  the  Tehuelche 
Indians  left  behind,  thinking  it  useless  to  proceed  to  the 
plains,  some  miles  distant,  to  hunt  for  the  supply  of  the 
toldos  whilst  cattle  and  sheep  were  grazing  in  the  immediate 
vicinity,  had  helped  themselves  in  the  obscurity  of  the  night. 
Mena  corroborated  the  fact ; and  although  he  had  been  away 
hunting  with  the  greatest  assiduity,  he  had  met  with  but 
little  success,  and  complained  bitterly  of  the  hungry  times 
they  had  endured. 

Soon  after  our  arrival  Kai  Chileno  was  seized  with  illness, 
and  in  a few  days  several  of  the  more  aged  and  children 
sickened  with  headache  and  fever,  showing  all  the  symptoms 
of  severe  influenza.  Alarmed  lest  the  sickness  should 
spread,  on  the  16th  of  April  most  of  the  Tehuelches  struck 

17 


258 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


toldos  and  took  the  road  leading  to  Patagones  ; but  our 
toldo  and  another  remained  behind  on  account  of  the  con- 
tinued illness  of  Graviel  and  the  others.  Towards  evening 
of  the  same  day  we  suddenly  heard  shouts  and  cries  in  the 
toldos  of  Foyel,  and  all  except  Casimiro,  who  sat  quite  still 
by  the  fireside,  rushed  to  seize  their  arms,  naturally  thinking 
that  a party  had  arrived  to  fight  from  Las  Manzanas.  After 
a little  suspense  we  observed  a line  of  men  advancing 
towards  our  toldos  on  foot,  shouting,  firing,  and  brandishing 
their  arms.  Casimiro,  who  was  having  a quiet  laugh  at  us, 
then  explained  that  they ' were  only  fighting  the  sickness. 
The  party  advanced  to  our  toldo,  beating  the  back  of  it 
with  their  lances,  to  scare  away  the  Gualichu,  and  then 
retired. 

We  all  had  a good  laugh  over  this  affair;  and  I was 
amused  to  hear  Mena,  who  was  an  intelligent  youth,  arguing 
that  the  Indians  were  quite  right,  as  sickness  never  attacked 
an  armed  man. 

We  lived  chiefly  on  air  the  last  four  days  of  our  stay  in 
Geylum,  as  no  hunting  was  done ; but  Foyel,  after  learning 
our  wants,  came  to  the  rescue,  presenting  me  with  a couple 
of  sheep,  which  I received  with  gratitude,  and  divided 
amongst  the  party. 

It  had  been  intended  that  this  party  should  accompany  the 
Tehuelches  to  Patagones,  but  as  it  would  be  necessary  to 
leave  their  women  and  children  in  Geylum  with  only  a few 
boys  to  take  care  of  the  flocks  and  herds,  and  they  were  not 
confident  as  to  the  pacific  intentions  of  the  Manzaneros,  he 
and  Quintuhual  considered  it  more  advisable  to  remain  for 
the  present  in  their  camp,  and  afterwards,  by  riding  in  fast, 
to  overtake  our  party  en  route  previous  to  their  arrival  in  the 
settlements. 

I bid  an  affectionate  adieu  to  Miss  Foyel,  who  had  always 
shown  me  the  greatest  kindness,  and  the  natural  grace  of 
whose  manners  would  have  adorned  a civilised  drawing- 
room. Her  parting  words  were  an  invitation  to  return  if 


LAS  MANZANAS.  259 

possible  and  pay  another  visit  to  the  toldo,  where  I had  been 
made  to  feel  myself  at  home. 

Her  father  asked  me  to  procure  him  a grinding  organ,  as 
Casimiro  had  informed  him  that  he  had  seen  music  made  by 
turning  a handle.  I promised  to  get  one  if  I could,  and  after 
a cordial  farewell  returned  to  our  toldo,  as  we  intended  going 
away  at  daylight  on  the  17th. 

Accordingly  we  prepared  for  a start ; and  a boy  came  over 
from  the  other  toldos  to  join  us.  He  was  a Tehuelche,  whose 
father  had  been  killed  on  suspicion  of  witchcraft,  and  being 
a remote  connexion  of  Casimiro’s,  had  claimed  his  protection, 
which  of  course  was  granted,  and  he  (Casimiro)  had  agreed 
to  take  him  with  us,  informing  him  that  he  was  to  act  as  my 
page,  look  after  my  horses,  &c.,  and  make  himself  generally 
useful.  This  was  a very  fine  idea,  but  one  glance  at  the  face 
and  figure  of  this  illustrious  youth  was  sufficient  to  show  me 
that  I should  probably  spend  my  time  in  looking  after  him, 
and  a more  mischievous  imp  I never  saw.  When  told  that 
he  might  catch  one  of  my  horses  to  travel  on,  he  immediately 
fixed  on  the  wrong  one,  and  a horse  that  I had  myself  barely 
mounted  for  perhaps  six  weeks,  in  order  to  get  it  into  con- 
dition for  the  journey  into  Patagones. 

This  horse  he  caught,  and  came  down  to  the  toldos  at  full 
gallop  over  rocks,  stones,  and  bushes,  with  a grin  of  delight 
on  his  face.  After  being  warned  in  mild  terms  that  he  was 
not  to  ride  that  horse,  which  I took  from  him  and  turned  loose, 
he  proceeded  to  catch  one  of  Casimiro’s,  which  he  treated  in 
the  same  manner,  but  at  length  got  the  right  one,  and  then, 
without  saying  ‘ With  your  leave,  or  by  your  leave,’  galloped 
off,  yelling  at  the  top  of  his  voice,  to  follow  the  road  which 
the  Indians  had  taken  the  previous  day. 

We  were  about  to  start  ourselves  when,  at  the  last  moment, 
Quintuhual  sent  to  say  that  he  wished  to  have  a council.  So 
Casimiro  and  myself  remained  in  the  pouring  rain  squatting 
on  the  grass  listening  to  a repetition  of  what  we  had  heard 
the  previous  day. 


260 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


When  the  council  was  concluded  a sheep  was  brought  up 
and  killed.  The  poor  beast  was  lashed  to  a post  with  its 
head  looking  to  the  sky,  and  the  throat  being  cut,  salt  was 
forced  into  the  wound,  the  lip  of  which  was  compressed 
secundum  artem,  in  order  to  flavour  the  blood  and  lungs,  &c., 
which  formed  the  repast.  All  the  girls  then  crowded  round, 
each  preferring  a request  to  us  to  bring  a little  yerba,  flour, 
sugar,  &c.,  from  the  settlements,  till,  our  horses  being  ready, 
mine  having  been  additionally  burdened  with  the  dead  mutton 
by  way  of  provisions  for  the  road,  we  extricated  ourselves 
from  the  crowd,  and  amidst  repeated  injunctions,  charges, 
and  affectionate  farewells,  got  away,  and  towards  four  p.m. 
started  to  overtake  the  now  distant  cavalcade. 


CHAPTER  VHL 


GEYLUM  TO  PATAGONES 


A Sick  Camp — Oerroe  Volcanic  Hill — Crime’s  Deathbed — Gravid’ s Pro- 
motion— The  Burning  Ground — Hot  Springs — Fighting  the  Gualichu 
— A Real  Fight — A Soda  Lake — Encampment  at  Telck — The  Doctor 
comes  to  Grief — An  Obliging  Ostrich — Appointed  Chasqui — Miseries 
of  Pampa  Life — A Bad  Time — The  Plains  of  Margensho — Casimiro’s 
Distrust — Doctor  and  Sick  Child — Duties  of  a Messenger — Departure 
of  the  Chasquis — Travelling  Express — The  Paved  Pampas — An  Ideal 
Bandit — Letter  from  the  Chupat  Colony — Trinita — Teneforo’s  Pampas 
— Champayo’s  Generosity — A Morning  Drink — Departure  from  Trinita 
— Valehita — The  Pigs’  Road — Wild  Horses — The  Travesia — Limit 
of  the  Patagonian  Fauna  and  Flora — First  View  of  the  Rio  Negro — 
Sauce  Blanco — The  Guardia — San  Xaviel — Approach  to  Patagones — 
Senor  Murga — Welsh  Hospitality — Among  Friends  at  Last. 

E were  now  fairly  started  on  our  journey  eastward  to 


the  Rio  Negro,  on  my  part  with  contending  feelings  of 
regret  at  quitting  my  recently  acquired  and  amiable  relatives, 
and  of  joyful  expectation  of  reaching  Patagones  and  finding 
there  that  which  travellers,  amidst  all  the  excitement  of  new 
countries  and  strange  people,  still  so  eagerly  long  for — news 
from  home  ! We  galloped  forward  casting  longing  looks 
behind  at  the  forest-clad  slopes  and  snowy  peaks  of  the  Cor- 
dillera, the  never-to-be-forgotten  beauty  of  which  made  the 
dismal  prospect  of  the  country  before  us  still  more  dreary. 

My  friends  had  been  unanimous  in  describing  the  district 
that  intervened  between  Geylum  and  a place  spoken  of  as 
Margensho,  nine  marches  distant,  as  both  diflicult  to  travel, 
and  affording  scanty  pasture  for  the  horses  and  little  game 


262 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


for  the  people.  The  rain  which  had  been  falling  when  we  left, 
had  turned  to  sleet  driven  by  a strong  westerly  gale,  and  my 
load  of  mutton  sadly  interfered  with  the  management  of  the 
sheltering  mantle.  Fortunately,  as  the  direction  of  our  route 
was  easterly,  we  thus  escaped  having  to  face  the  storm, 
while  the  gale  in  our  backs  stimulated  both  horses  and  riders 
to  their  utmost  speed. 

At  the  entrance  of  the  rock-strewn  gorge  which  formed  the 
eastern  gateway  of  the  valley  of  Geylum,  to  the  south  of 
which  towered  the  isolated  column  of  rock,  we  were  sud- 
denly startled  by  the  apparition  of  mounted  Indians  galloping 
towards  us  from  the  direction  which  our  advanced  party  had 
taken.  Conjectures  as  to  possible  calamity  in  the  shape  of  a 
fight  or  accident  were  speedily  dispelled,  as  they  proved  to 
be  Tehuelches  riding  back  in  search  of  lost  horses,  which  they 
averred  had  been  stolen  and  craftily  concealed  by  the  Arau- 
canians.  So  we  continued  our  march  through  a succession 
of  narrow  rocky  gorges  winding  amongst  the  hills,  till,  as  the 
twilight  was  growing  dark,  we  arrived,  wet  and  weary,  and 
feeling  symptoms  of  illness,  at  the  encampment  situated  in 
one  of  the  usual  grassy  valleys.  The  toldo,  when  reached, 
proved  to  be  in  utter  disorder,  two  of  the  women  and  a child 
having  been  attacked  with  the  epidemic  ; so  we  set  to  work 
ourselves  to  light  a fire,  secure  the  skin  covering  of  the  toldo, 
and  arrange  the  beds,  and  after  a time  the  interior  assumed 
a more  ship-shape  aspect,  although  the  grass  (our  carpet)  and 
everything  else  were  wet.  On  every  side  one  heard  com- 
plaints of  some  child  having  fallen  sick,  and  throughout 
the  wailing  cry  of  the  women  ‘ Ah  gelay  loo  ! ’ over  their 
darlings  rendered  sleep  all  but  impossible.  Next  morning 
broke  fine  and  clear,  so  it  was  determined  to  march  onwards 
in  the  hope  that  speedy  change  might  get  rid  of  the  epidemic, 
but  starting  was  almost  as  difficult  as  staying. 

Of  our  party  Mena  had  returned  to  look  for  a missing 
horse  ; Crime  was  dying,  and  Casimiro  was  attending  to 
him  ; and  what  with  sick  friends  and  children  all  were 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


263 


occupied  or  distracted,  and  the  business  of  catching  the 
horses  devolved  on  myself,  single-handed  at  first.  Having 
secured  the  troop,  the  next  task  was  to  catch  my  newly - 
acquired  steed  ; the  sight  of  a lazo  was  sufficient  to  make 
him  gallop  a league,  and  as  he  was  very  swift,  three  hours 
were  spent  in  ineffectual  efforts,  but  at  last,  two  or  three  of 
my  comrades  coming  up  to  my  assistance,  he  was  caught. 
Giving  m3-  flibbertigibbet  page  charge  of  the  remaining 
horses,  I started,  in  company  with  one  of  my  friends,  to  join 
the  hunting  circle,  already  in  course  of  formation. 

We  rode  up  a valley  in  an  easterly  direction,  on  our  way 
passing  the  invalid  Crime,  who,  groaning  with  pain,  lay 
stretched  out  at  full  length  on  a sort  of  couch  composed  of 
blankets  on  the  horse’s  back,  his  wife  leading  the  horse  and 
wailing  out  loud.  But  as  condolences  were  of  little  use,  we 
passed  on  in  silence,  and  shortly  emerged  from  the  valley 
which  sloped  up  b}7  gradual  ascent  to  a wide  plain  of  sandy 
soil  and  stunted  hushes,  bounded  on  the  eastern  horizon  by 
a line  of  high  jagged  hills,  which  stretched  to  the  southward 
as  far  as  the  e3'e  could  reach.  While  sitting  under  a bush 
by  the  fire,  I was  attacked  with  headache  and  sickness, 
the  premonitory  s}7mptoms  of  the  epidemic  ; however,  I 
mounted  and  joined  the  hunting  party,  and  at  the  end  of  the 
circle  felt  much  better,  although  unable  to  eat. 

The  finish  brought  us  to  the  entrance  of  a valley  which 
wound  among  the  precipitous  rocky  hills  of  the  range  seen 
from  the  farther  verge  of  the  plain.  While  watching  the  caval- 
cade of  women  and  baggage,  I looked  long  in  vain  for  my 
own  troop  of  four  horses,  but  at  last  descried  them  trotting 
without  a guide  in  the  rear  of  the  column,  their  natural 
sagacity  or  perhaps  thirst  having  induced  them  to  follow 
then-  comrades.  The  trusty  page  had  left  them  to  take  care 
of  themselves,  and  gone  off  hunting  on  his  own  account, 
which  behaviour,  repeated  on  a subsequent  occasion,  caused 
the  lass  of  the  stud.  Towards  evening  we  encamped  in  a 
valley  enclosed  b)’  three  hills,  one  of  which,  of  decidedly 


264 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


volcanic  aspect,  was  named  ‘ Oerroe.’  The  side  of  this  hill 
was  thickly  scattered  with  fragments  of  the  vesicular  lava 
which  furnishes  the  favourite  material  for  the  hand  bolas. 
As  most  of  us  had  exchanged  our  weapons  of  the  chase  for 
apples,  pinones,  &c.,  in  Las  Manzanas,  many  were  soon 
employed  picking  stones  and  fashioning  bolas.  I took  very 
good  care  that  my  page  should  be  unprovided  with  hunting 
implements,  but,  alas ! here  he  fell  sick,  or  pretended  to  be, 
and  was  just  as  useless  as  before.  The  day  after  our  arrival 
Crime’s  sufferings  were  terminated.  I received  a summons 
to  his  death-bed  ; the  cacique,  though  wandering,  knew  his 
friends,  and  called  all  to  witness  that  his  death  had  been  caused 
by  a Southern  Tehuelche  whom  he  named  and  described, 
and  then,  raising  his  arm,  pointed  to  a vacant  space  and 
cried,  ‘ Look  at  him,  there  he  stands.’  He  then  asked  me  to 
‘ feel  his  arm,’  and  as,  to  please  him,  I laid  my  finger  on  his 
pulse,  it  beat  slower  and  slower,  till,  with  a sudden  gasp,  he 
died.  According  to  etiquette,  we  silently  retired,  and  the 
toldo  resounded  with  the  clamorous  crying  of  the  women  and 
the  wailing  of  his  widow.  The  usual  funeral  rites  were 
hurriedly  gone  through,  but  most  were  too  absorbed  in  their 
own  troubles  to  participate  in  them.  During  the  night  three 
children  died,  and  more  were  at  death’s  door  ; and,  the  supply 
of  horseflesh  from  the  funeral  victims  being  abundant,  all 
thoughts  of  marching  were  abandoned,  and  the  camp  re- 
sounded with  the  lamentations  of  the  women.  In  our  toldo 
all  the  inmates  were  sick,  and  the  duty  of  looking  after  the 
horses  devolved  on  myself  and  Casimiro,  who  was  recovering 
from  his  attack. 

We  were  joined  in  this  place  by  Hinchel’s  son  with  his 
Araucanian  wife,  with  whom  another  man  came  to  look  for  a 
girl  who  had  run  away  from  Foyel’s  toldo,  but  his  quest 
proved  fruitless,  as  she  remained  invisible,  stowed  away  in 
some  of  the  toldos.  This  man  brought  further  news  that 
Cheoeque’s  people,  renewing  the  old  feud,  were  arming  to  fight 
now  that  we  had  gone  ; also  that  a man  had  been  killed  in  a 


GEYLUM  TO  PATAGONES. 


265 


drunken  brawl  since  our  departure,  and  that  a rumour  was  cur- 
rent that  the  Yaldivians  had  had  their  cattle  taken  from  them, 
and  various  other  stories,  most  of  which  were  declared  to  be 
lies  by  Orkeke,  who,  having  lost  ahorse,  had  returned  to  look 
for  it  in  Geylum  ; the  budget  of  alarming  news  thus  proving 
to  be  a fresh  illustration  of  the  Indian’s  proneness  to  invent 
if  they  have  nothing  of  real  importance  wherewith  to  astonish 
their  hearers.  Crime’s  widow  took  up  her  abode  in  our  toldo ; 
and  as,  by  this  chief’s  death,  the  post  of  capitanejo,  with  the 
rank  of  lieutenant  in  the  Buenos  Ayrean  army,  and  the  right 
of  drawing  rations,  was  vacant,  Casimiro  consulted  me  as  to 
his  successor.  But  successive  proposals  of  those  who  seemed 
most  fit,  beginning  with  Waki,  were  objected  to  by  the  cacique, 
who  at  last  declared  that  he  should  name  his  almost  in- 
sane son  Graviel  as  the  chief  to  be  placed  by  the  Argentine 
Government  upon  the  list  of  the  caciques  to  be  conciliated 
by  annual  pay ! On  April  22  a start  was  made,  but  we 
remained  to  the  last,  as  four  of  Casimiro’s  horses  which  I had 
brought  down  to  the  valley  the  previous  evening  were  missing, 
so  the  chieftain  returned  to  look  for  them,  and  the  rest  of  the 
toldo  pursued  their  journey. 

After  taking  a farewell  look  at  the  Cordillera,  which  was 
presently  shut  out  from  view  by  the  hills,  the  counterslope 
of  which  we  descended,  a hurried  march  led  us  through  a 
very  barren  rocky  country  entangled  in  broken  irregular 
hills,  with  scarcely  a bush  to  shelter  under,  and  little  or  no 
pasture.  We  encamped,  or  rather  reached  the  camp  after 
it  was  pitched,  in  a canon  containing  a small  spring  and  a 
very  little  green  pasture,  and  went  to  bed  supperless,  as,  not 
being  in  time  for  the  hunt,  and  game  being  very  scarce, 
what  we  could  beg  from  our  neighbours  was  naturally  given 
to  those  recovering  from  sickness. 

Jackechan’s  wife  and  child  were  still  very  unwell,  and,  as 
the  child  was  supposed  to  be  dying,  the  doctor  was  sent  for. 
He  proceeded  to  cure  it  by  laying  it  on  the  ground,  mutter- 
ing a charm  and  patting  it  on  the  head ; after  which  he  put 


266 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


bis  mouth  close  to  its  chest  and  shouted  to  bring  the  devil 
out : he  then  turned  it  on  its  face  and  repeated  the  same 
process.  The  child’s  health  mended  next  day,  and  it  was 
shortly  out  of  danger. 

About  ten  o’clock  at  night  Casimiro  returned  with  his 
horses,  which  had  strayed  a considerable  distance  on  the 
road  back  to  Geylum.  The  next  day  a long  march  of 
twenty  miles  brought  us  to  an  encampment  on  the  western 
verge  of  a broad  plain,  watered  by  a brooklet.  During  the 
hunt  the  first  Patagonian  hares,  or  cavies,  were  caught. 
These  little  animals  live  in  burrows,  hut  are  generally  out 
feeding  or  sleeping  in  the  grass  during  the  day.  They  are 
excessively  swift  for  perhaps  a mile,  but,  like  the  foxes  of 
this  country  soon  get  tired.  The  chase  of  these  small  deer 
afforded  an  agreeable  relief  to  the  monotony  of  the  journey. 
As  soon  as  we  entered  a plain  or  valley  where  they  abounded, 
as  they  always  were  found  in  numbers  where  the  pasture 
was  good,  all  hurried  off  to  ‘ stop  the  earths,’  i.e.,  close  up 
the  burrows  with  bushes ; but  the  cunning  little  beasts  often 
evaded  us  by  slipping  into  a burrow  overlooked  by  the  earth, 
stoppers.  It  required  considerable  skill  to  bring  them  down 
with  the  bolas,  as,  if  only  caught  round  the  legs  or  body, 
they  disentangled  themselves  quickly,  but  a blow  on  the  head 
proved  at  once  fatal.  They  are  good  eating,  though  the  flesh 
is  somewhat  dry  when  roasted.  Their  skins  are  made  up  into 
mantles,  but  are  of  little  value,  as  the  hair  soon  comes  off. 

About  a mile  below  the  encampment,  where  the  sandy 
plain  narrowed  and  sloped  down  to  a low-lying  grassy  valley, 
a singular  phenomenon  presented  itself.  The  morning  after 
our  arrival,  when  going  out  to  look  for  the  horses,  a furi- 
ous easterly  gale  whirled  the  dust  aloft  in  dense  clouds, 
and,  to  my  great  surprise,  the  sand,  which  was  driven 
into  our  faces,  was  as  liot  as  when  the  fire  so  nearly  en- 
circled us.  Almost  blinded  in  forcing  our  way  through  this 
curtain  of  driving  sand,  we  rode  right  into  a hollow,  where 
the  earth  appeared  to  be  on  fire ; as  the  horses  plunged 


GEYLUM  TO  PA T AGONES. 


267 


through  the  heated  surface  the  hair  was  burnt  off  their  fet- 
locks, and  they  were  nearly  maddened  with  fright,  so  that 
it  was  a difficult  feat  for  the  riders  without  saddles  or 
stirrups  to  keep  their  seats.  Once  I was  somewhere  near 
my  horse’s  ears,  but,  more  by  good  luck  than  good  manage- 
ment, just  escaped  being  thrown  as  it  were  into  the  fire. 
After  the  gale  had  partially  moderated,  I proceeded  to 
inspect  this  place,  and  found  that,  although  not,  as  I at  first 
thought,  absolutely  on  fire,  the  ground  was  smoking  as  if 
from  internal  combustion.  The  surface  presented  a crust  of 
baked  yellow  clay,  which  yielding  to  the  horses’  feet,  dis- 
closed a black  subsoil ; there  was  no  flame,  but  a thin  white 
vapour  issued  from  the  ground.  When  I incautiously  ven- 
tured a step  on  the  treacherous  crust,  it  gave  way,  but  I 
managed  to  extricate  myself  with  no  further  damage  than 
burning  my  potro  boots.  The  Indians  stated  that  the  fire  had 
been  originally  caused  some  years  previously  by  their  having 
kindled  the  pasture  higher  up  the  valley,  and  that  the  ground 
had  been  burning  ever  since.  It  was  impossible  to  discover 
whether  there  was  any  subjacent  bed  of  combustible  matter 
which  might  thus  have  been  ignited  ; but  as  there  are  hot- 
wells  and  springs  in  the  same  range  not  many  miles  distant 
to  the  south-east,  it  seems  more  probably  due  to  volcanic 
agency.  The  principal  hot  spring  was  described  as  a circular 
basin  of  about  six  feet  in  diameter,  the  water,  of  a tempera- 
ture not  so  hot  as  to  scald  the  hand,  bubbling  up  through 
numerous  holes  in  a clay  bottom.  In  many  of  the  surround- 
ing hills  there  are  lava  and  pumice  of  not  extremely  ancient 
formation ; some  of  the  hills  have  also  an  appearance  of 
having  been  at  a recent  period  the  outlets  of  eruptive  forces, 
which  have  scattered  large  shattered  masses  of  rock  over  the 
sides  of  the  extinct  craters. 

In  this  encampment  I had  a serious  misunderstanding  with 
our  chief,  which  all  but  ended  in  a downright  quarrel ; but 
after  consideration  we  agreed  to  make  it  up,  as  although  on 
two  occasions  of  danger  he  had  left  me  to  my  fate,  I thought 


268 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


it  better  on  the  whole  to  keep  friends  for  the  present.  The 
evening  of  this  quarrel,  as  a party  of  three  toldos  were  start- 
ing off  to  go  to  the  Chupat,  and  Casimiro  was  desirous  of 
extending  his  fame  to  the  Welsh  settlement,  I wrote  a letter 
to  the  authorities  inquiring  about  some  saddles,  part  of  his 
Argentine  rations  sent  thither  by  mistake,  which  the  chief 
declared  to  have  been  intended  for  him,  but  which  had  been 
distributed  amongst  other  Indians.  The  letter  was  forwarded 
by  one  of  the  Indians  who  was  supposed  to  be  of  English 
parentage  on  one  side,  although  he  showed  but  little  traces 
of  English  blood  in  his  type,  with  the  exception  perhaps  of 
his  hair,  which  was  of  a lighter  colour  than  that  usually  met 
with  : he  was  a very  good-natured  fellow,  and  I regretted  his 
departure,  as  he  was  one  of  my  adherents,  but  being  a man 
of  very  sober  habits  he  did  not  wish  to  be  mixed  up  in  the 
universal  orgie  which  would  probably  take  place  on  arriving 
in  the  vicinity  of  Patagones.  With  this  party  the  young 
widow,  who  had  made  overtures  of  marriage  to  me,  also 
departed,  after  an  affectionate  farewell,  and  receiving  a hand- 
kerchief as  a remembrance.  The  following  morning  we  also 
started,  and  one  of  the  universal  loafers  who  had  gambled 
his  property  away,  asking  for  a mount,  was  told  to  catch  the 
‘ white  horse  ’ presented  by  Orkeke : he  accordingly  borrowed 
a horse  to  catch  him,  and  at  the  end  of  our  day’s  journey  had 
not  succeeded  in  doing  more  than  driving  him  in,  to  use  a 
nautical  term,  in  our  wake  ; this  was  exactly  what  I had 
intended,  as  this  Indian  was  a great  rogue,  and  had  cheated 
me  at  cards  out  of  a set  of  metal  bolas,  equivalent  to  ahorse. 

Our  march  lay  up  the  valley,  and  the  circle  was  formed  on 
the  surrounding  volcanic  hills,  the  sides  of  which,  besides  the 
vesicular  lava,  presented  large  masses  of  the  ironstone  noted 
as  having  been  observed  at  Santa  Cruz.  Shrubs  were  sparsely 
scattered  on  these  hills,  and  game  was  exceedingly  scarce. 

Towards  evening  we  encamped  on  the  borders  of  a stream 
in  a place  called  by  the  Indians  Telck.  There  the  sickness 
broke  out  afresh  in  its  worst  form,  and  several  children  died, 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


269 


in  consequence  of  which  a quantity  of  mares  and  horses  were 
slaughtered,  and  numbers  of  ponchos,  ornaments,  and  other 
property  burnt  by  the  parents  in  their  grief.  It  was  most 
distressing  to  see  and  hear  the  melancholy  manifestations  of 
sorrow,  and  the  sound  alone  of  that  dreadful  crying  aloud, 
and  the  dismal  ‘ ullagoning,’  to  use  the  Irish  expression,  of 
the  old  women,  haunted  me  even  in  my  sleep.  The  night  of 
our  arrival  a mock  combat  with  the  Gualichu  took  place,  in 
which  everybody  joined.  After  dark,  when  many  were 
sitting  by  the  firesides  conversing,  and  I myself  was  reclin- 
ing on  my  bed  smoking,  the  doctor  came  into  the  toldo,  and 
communicated  with  the  chief,  who  told  all  to  get  their  arms 
ready,  and  loaded  his  gun  : on  a shout  being  set  up  all  fires 
were  immediately  extinguished,  and  all  commenced  firing  off 
guns,  clashing  their  swords,  and  beating  the  backs  of  the 
toldos,  and  yelling  ‘ kow-w  ! ’ at  each  blow;  firebrands  being, 
at  the  same  time,  thrown  into  the  air  by  the  women,  with 
clamorous  shouts  and  cries.  The  scene  was  wild  and  striking, 
the  darkness  of  the  night  being  only  illuminated  by  the  flashes 
of  the  guns  or  the  sparks  from  the  brands  whirled  high  into 
the  air.  At  a given  signal  all  stopped  simultaneously,  and 
for  two  or  three  minutes  the  camp  remained  in  perfect  dark- 
ness, after  which  the  fires  were  relighted,  and  things  resumed 
their  ordinary  aspect. 

The  following  day,  strange  to  say,  a real  fight  took  place, 
in  which  one  man  was  wounded,  and  for  a few  minutes  a 
general  melee  or  free  fight  appeared  imminent.  Parties  were 
already  forming  to  cancel  old  blood  feuds,  when  further 
mischief  was  checked  by  the  return  of  Hinchel,  myself,  and 
others.  We  had  been  absent  trying  new  horses  on  the  race- 
course, which,  as  in  almost  all  the  camping-grounds  since 
leaving  the  Rio  Sengel,  was  a regular  beaten  level  track  of 
about  a couple  of  miles  in  length,  and  my  new  horse  had 
established  his  fame  as  a racer  by  winning  a match  over  a 
distance  of  a mile  and  a half ; meanwhile  the  quarrel  broke 
out — such  are  the  uncertainties  of  Indian  life. 


270 


AT  ROME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


We  remained  some  days  in  this  place,  and  whilst  hunting 
in  the  surrounding  country  (where  hares  abounded),  we  ob- 
served a new  description  of  spinous  shrub  with  small  ovate 
leaves  and  yellow  flowers,  resembling  holly,  and  growing  to 
about  two  feet  in  height.  Casimiro  and  myself  agreed  to  try 
whether  the  leaves  might  not  be  medicinal,  so  a quantity  were 
bruised  and  boiled : the  infusion  proved  exceedingly  hitter, 
reminding  me  of  quinine,  and  acted  as  an  admirable  sudorific, 
being  administered  to  the  invalids  with  great  success.  In 
one  of  our  excursions  we  had  crossed  the  hills  and  descended 
on  a high  elevated  plain,  concluding  our  hunt  near  a swell- 
ing eminence  exactly  resembling  a huge  ‘ barrow  ’ thickly 
overgrown  with  shrubs,  from  which  what  appeared  to  be  a 
salina  was  espied,  to  our  great  delight.  Hinchel  and  myself 
being  alone,  and  having  a fat  ostrich  to  discuss  for  dinner, 
determined  to  enjoy  our  meal  by  its  shore,  first  testing  the 
quality  of  the  salt,  a luxury  which  we  had  long  been  desti- 
tute of.  Dismounting,  we  proceeded  to  investigate  it ; but 
to  our  great  disappointment,  after  walking  over  every  part  of 
it,  and  digging  down  with  knives  a foot  below  the  surface,  the 
supposed  salt  proved  to  be  bitter  and  nauseous  nitrate  of  soda. 

After  quitting  the  vicinity  of  the  Cordillera  the  weather 
had  every  day  become  warmer,  and  the  frosts  at  night  much 
lighter  : indeed  whilst  in  Telck  some  warm  days  were  ex- 
perienced, although  the  winter  season  was  fast  approaching. 
Near  this  encampment  the  small  edible  root  previously  de- 
cribed  as  growing  in  the  dried-up  lagoons  was  found  in 
abundance,  and  was  collected  by  the  women  and  children. 

Cavies  were  plentiful  in  the  hollows  and  valleys  in  the 
neighbouring  hills,  and  even  close  to  the  encampment,  but 
the  chase  of  other  game  proved  difficult,  the  hill  sides  being 
so  strewn  with  stones  as  to  render  galloping  a horse  a 
certainty  of  laming  him.  In  this  neighbourhood  Hinchel 
pointed  out  a detached  pinnacle  of  rock,  much  resembling 
that  noticed  at  Geylum,  and  according  to  custom  invoked  a 
blessing  from  the  guardian  spirit ; and  then  he  informed  me 


GEYLTJM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


271 


that  on  the  third  next  march  we  should  pass  a deposit  of 
yellow  ore,  lying  to  the  south  of  the  route,  and  that  during 
the  hunt  he  would  show  it  to  me.  Orkeke  also  corroborated 
this  statement,  and  I have  every  reason  to  believe  that  there 
is  in  that  locality  a deposit  of  iron  or  more  probably  copper 
ore. 

As  the  meat  of  the  slain  horses  was  nearly  consumed,  we 
marched  the  following  day  across  a most  stony,  rocky,  and 
inhospitable  country,  and  at  length  arrived  at  a range  of 
hills,  through  which  ran  a steep,  narrow  gorge.  Descending 
through  its  tortuous  windings,  we  at  length  arrived  at  a 
spring,  the  waters  of  which,  joining  with  another  small 
rivulet,  flowed  out,  and  formed  a sort  of  marsh  at  the  head 
of  a large  plain.  From  the  slope  of  the  hill  bordering  the 
ravine  a fine  panorama  extended  to  the  east,  the  entire  face 
of  the  country  appearing  to  be  more  uniformly  undulating 
than  the  confused  ranges  of  hills,  through  the  intricacies  of 
which  we  had  been  marching  and  hunting  since  leaving 
Geylum.  In  the  foreground  were  visible  distant  black 
figures,  moving  with  swiftness  across  the  plain  in  pursuit  of 
numerous  ostriches ; and  away  to  the  eastward  rose  a column 
of  smoke,  the  cause  of  which  was  eagerly  speculated  on. 

I am  conscious  that  the  description  of  this  part  of  the 
journey  is  not  likely  to  give  a very  clear  idea  of  the  country 
traversed ; and  that  the  directions  of  the  successive  ranges, 
and  the  general  character  of  the  ground,  are  left  too  much 
to  the  reader’s  imagination  ; but,  in  deprecation  of  criticism 
and  censure,  it  is  pleaded  that  I was  under  the  impression 
that  this  district  had  been  traversed,  and  accurately  surveyed 
and  described,  by  a savant  employed  by  the  Argentine  Govern- 
ment ; and  that  I was  deprived  of  the  assistance  of  my 
compass,  which  had  been  presented  to  Foyel.  The  notes 
taken  at  the  time  were  very  scanty,  and  my  recollections 
were  confused,  inasmuch  as  I was  labouring  under  a con- 
stantly-recurring attack  of  sickness,  which  was  only  kept  at 
bay  by  resolute  endeavours  not  to  give  way  ; but  which  ren- 


272 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


dered  observation  and  record,  in  addition  to  hunting  and  the 
usual  toils  of  marching,  impossible.  It  was  the  more  need- 
ful for  me  to  endeavour  to  keep  up,  as  all  were  more  or  less 
ill,  and  becoming  increasingly  gloomy  and  dispirited.  To 
add  to  the  troubles  which  weighed  down  the  Indians’  spirits 
at  this  place,  the  doctor’s  horse  fell  while  descending  a 
precipitous  rocky  hill.  The  unfortunate  physician  was 
stunned,  and  very  nearly  crushed  to  death  by  the  horse 
falling  on  him  ; great  grief  was  universally  expressed  at  this 
catastrophe,  as  no  one  was  left  to  cure  the  invalids  and 
contend  with  the  malignant  Gualichu,  who,  it  was  natural 
for  the  Indians  to  imagine,  had  laid  a trap  for  his  opponent, 
and  upset  the  medicine  man’s  steed  in  order  to  have  the 
field  clear  for  himself. 

We  encamped  in  a sort  of  morass,  by  the  side  of  the  hills 
overlooking  the  plain,  and  were  woke  at  daylight  by  the 
chattering  of  a flock  of  blue  and  orange  paroquets ; these 
birds,  which  brought  back  old  pleasant  associations  of  the 
banks  of  the  Parana,  and  almost  seemed  to  be  harbingers  of 
civilised  life,  were  numerous  in  this  locality,  though  they 
were  the  first  of  the  species  that  I had  observed  in  the 
country. 

The  distant  signal  smoke  was  concluded  to  indicate  the 
presence  of  Jackechan  and  the  Pampa  Indians  under  Tene- 
foro,  and  all  were  in  spirits  at  the  prospect  of  obtaining 
news,  and  perhaps  luxuries  in  the  shape  of  flour,  yerba,  &c., 
from  Patagones.  The  order  was  accordingly  given  to  march, 
and  a large  answering  signal  fire  kindled  in  some  dry  pas- 
ture bordering  the  hill  side,  a messenger  being  at  the  same 
time  despatched  to  ascertain  the  news.  After  a rather  long 
march  over  a barren  plain  strewn  with  angular  masses  of 
chalcedony  and  projecting  rocks  resembling  alabaster,  we 
arrived  at  a dreary  encampment,  sheltered  under  a bank,  from 
which  a spring  gushed  out,  forming  a refreshing  rivulet. 

The  mutiny  of  my  page  had  compelled  me  to  enjoy  the 
pleasure  of  driving  my  own  cattle,  following  the  track  in 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


273 


advance  of  the  other  people ; besides  this,  an  attack  of  fever 
rendered  me  indisposed,  and,  indeed,  incapable  of  hunting. 
While  languidly  jogging  on  in  the  centre  of  the  circle  which 
was  made  on  both  sides  of  the  tracks,  and  anathematizing 
one  of  the  horses  who  would  every  now  and  then  endeavour 
to  join  the  hunt  on  his  own  account,  I observed  an  ostrich 
coming  straight  towards  me : the  sight  was  reviving,  and 
leaving  my  horses  to  themselves,  I galloped  to  the  cover  of 
a friendly  bush,  and  when  he  was  within  a short  distance 
dashed  out,  and  discharging  the  bolas,  had  the  satisfaction 
of  seeing  him  turn  a somersault  and  lie  with  outstretched 
wings  stunned.  An  Indian  riding  up  at  the  time  claimed  the 
customary  division,  and  took  charge  of  the  bird,  on  which 
we  regaled  our  friends  at  the  close  of  the  hunt.  Many  of 
the  hunters  came  in  empty-handed,  or  with  only  a skunk,  of 
which  there  were  numbers  in  this  vicinity,  hanging  to  their 
saddles.  By  this  time  the  armadilloes  had  taken  up  their 
winter  quarters  under-ground,  and  only  came  out  of  their 
burrows  on  a remarkably  sunny  day. 

At  night  we  encamped  under  a barranca  or  steep  rising 
to  the  eastward.  On  his  arrival  Hinchel  informed  me  that 
we  had  passed  the  vein  of  ore  previously  spoken  of,  and  the 
hot  springs,  the  Indians  having  shortened  the  journey  by 
deviating  from  the  usual  line  of  march. 

The  chasqui  returned  late  at  night  with  intelligence  that 
the  smoke  had  been  caused  by  a party  of  Pampas  Indians 
travelling  to  join  Quintuhual,  or,  at  any  rate,  in  that  direc- 
tion, but  whatever  provisions  or  tobacco  they  had  they  kept 
to  themselves,  and  had  purposely  avoided  us.  Jackechan 
and  Teneforo  had  started  for  Yalchita  en  route  for  Pata- 
gones,  after  waiting  for  our  coming  more  than  a month  in 
Margensho,  the  place  appointed  as  a rendezvous.  Whilst 
there  they  had  received  liquor  and  other  luxuries  from  Pata- 
gones,  but  no  disturbances  had  ensued,  the  only  casualty 
being  that  a woman  had  been  severely  burned  by  falling  into 
a fire  whilst  in  a state  of  intoxication.  All  was  reported  to 

18 


274 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


be  peaceable  at  Patagones,  and  a rumour  was  current  that 
Commandante  Murga  was  about  to  give  up  his  governorship. 
Casimiro,  on  receiving  all  this  intelligence,  immediately 
wished  a despatch  to  be  indited,  although  I pointed  out  to 
him  that  it  would  be  better  to  wait  until  we  had  arrived  at  a 
nearer  point  ; he  was  so  urgent  that  on  the  following  morning 
I composed  an  elaborate  letter,  detailing  the  union  of  the 
tribes,  the  precautions  taken  for  protecting  Patagones,  and 
requesting  a hundred  mares  for  Casimiro  and  his  people  : 
when  finished  it  was  carefully  wrapped  up  and  stowed  away 
in  my  baggage  till  wanted. 

The  talk  then  naturally  turned  on  the  subject  of  the  choice 
of  messengers  to  be  despatched  to  Patagones  on  our  arrival 
at  Margensho.  It  had  been  previously  arranged  that  I 
should  be  sent  fully  commissioned,  as  being  better  able  to 
represent  to  the  authorities  what  had  been  resolved  on,  as  well 
as  to  impress  upon  them  the  immediate  requirements  of  the  In- 
dians, and  several  others  now  volunteered  to  accompany  me, 
and  got  quite  merry  at  the  thoughts  of  a drink.  But  we  were 
still  three  marches  distant  from  Margensho.  The  following 
day  we  were  again  en  route,  traversing  a succession  of  plains 
with  rocky  ridges  cropping  up  at  intervals,  until  we  at 
length  reached  a grassy  valley  enclosed  by  steep  walls  of 
rocks  sixty  feet  high  ; gravely  perched  on  the  summits  of 
which  several  slate-coloured  Chilian  eagles  were  visible, 
their  occupation  being  to  prevent  the  excessive  multiplication 
of  little  cavies.  On  the  hill  sides  bordering  this  valley, 
our  old  friend  the  incense  bush,  which  had  for  many  marches 
back  been  very  scarce,  grew  in  luxuriant  profusion.  At  this 
season  it  was  covered  with  berries  which,  though  uneatable, 
are  used  by  the  Indians  mixed  up  with  water  as  a drink  ; 
this  infusion  has  a very  sweet  taste,  but  I should  think 
must  be  very  unwholesome.  On  arriving  at  the  encamp- 
ment, at  the  head  of  the  valley,  near  some  pools  of  standing 
water,  we  were  apprised,  by  the  lugubrious  sounds  of  the 
women’s  monotonous  chants,  that  the  number  of  the  children 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


275 


had  been  further  diminished  by  several  deaths.  One  of  this 
day’s  victims  to  the  epidemic  being  Algo,  Tankelow’s 
youngest  daughter,  the  father  was  in  great  distress  and 
anger,  as  he  attributed  the  death  not  to  the  distemper,  but  to 
witchcraft. 

The  warm  and  tolerably  fine  weather  experienced  since 
our  departure  from  Telck  had  been  succeeded  by  a heavy, 
murky,  still  atmosphere,  and  the  clouded  sky  promised  a 
downfall  of  rain,  which  speedily  came.  The  next  day  more 
children  and  the  old  deaf  and  dumb  woman  died ; over  her 
little  moan  was  made,  but  the  lamentations  over  the  chil- 
dren were  terrible  to  hear,  and  on  all  sides  mares  were 
slaughtered.  The  abundance  of  meat,  and  the  general  con- 
fusion, combined  with  the  rain  to  defeat  Casimiro’s  anxious 
desire  to  proceed.  The  accumulation  of  miseries  had  ren- 
dered all  the  Indians  gloomy  and  ill-humoured ; and  since 
our  departure  from  Geylum  we  had  had  ample  experience  of 
the  wretched  side  of  Pampa  life. 

This  district  is  always  dreaded  by  the  Indians,  who  assert 
that  they  invariably  are  attacked  by  a similar  sickness  when 
in  it,  notwithstanding  that  some  considered  it  to  have  been 
occasioned  by  poison  or  deleterious  drugs  administered  by 
our  late  neighbours.  The  marches  had  therefore  been  forced 
and  prolonged,  and  the  increased  fatigue  had  doubtless  aided 
the  distemper  in  its  fatal  effects.  Nearly  half  the  children 
and  several  of  the  elder  people  died  diming  our  progress 
to  Margensho,  and  the  utter  misery  and  discomfort  cannot 
be  described.  The  rain  had  continually  drenched  us ; the 
women,  distracted  with  their  endeavours  to  soothe  the  sick 
children,  and  then’  grief  over  the  dead,  could  not  attend  to 
their-  domestic  duties  ; our  mantles  were  unmended,  and 
proved  but  a poor  shelter  from  the  rain,  no  small  misery  in 
this  climate,  and  the  arrangements  of  the  toldos  were  utterly 
devoid  of  their  customary  care  and  comfort.  The  usual  good 
temper  and  cheerfulness  of  all  had  fled,  and  grief,  sickness, 
and  angry  suspicion  cast  a gloom  over  every  countenance. 


276 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


One  misery,  starvation,  had  certainly  been  avoided  by  the 
abundance  of  horse-flesh,  but  it  can  easily  be  imagined  that 
we  could  have  borne  hunger  better.  We  had  endured  cold, 
and  hunger,  and  fatigue,  as  well  as  danger,  before,  but 
nothing  has  left  so  indelible  an  impression  of  a thoroughly 
bad  time  as  that  march  from  Geylum  to  Margensho. 

At  last  Casimiro  issued  orders  to  march,  and  with  two  or 
three  more  of  us  started  in  advance.  While  waiting  under 
the  shelter  of  a mass  of  rocks  for  the  remainder  to  overtake 
us,  I fell  asleep,  and  on  waking  up  found  the  rain  pouring 
down  in  torrents,  and  the  chief  just  directing  Mena  to 
return  and  see  what  the  women  were  about.  Our  page 
arrived  a little  later  to  say  that  the  Indians  had  refused  to 
march,  the  occupants  of  our  toldo  alone  being  on  their  way 
to  join  us  : these  soon  appeared,  so  we  proceeded  in  the 
storm,  having  agreed  that  to  return,  after  having  once 
started,  would  be  an  ignominious  proceeding. 

We  followed  for  some  distance  the  valley,  or  rather  the 
plain,  into  which  it  had  opened  out,  and  then  ascended  some 
abrupt  rocky  heights  at  its  eastern  extremity ; crossing  these 
hills,  in  the  valleys  or  ravines  of  which  incense  bushes  grew 
almost  like  a forest,  we  halted  for  a time  by  the  side  of  a 
rivulet  flowing  from  a spring  on  the  hill  side. 

After  kindling  a fire  to  warm  our  bodies,  wet  as  we  were 
and  chilled  by  the  wind,  which,  originally  west,  now  blew 
from  the  south  with  cutting  violence,  the  sight  of  numerous 
guanaco  on  the  heights  above  determined  us  to  encircle  a 
herd ; we  accordingly  mounted  the  heights,  and  having 
completely  failed  in  our  attempt,  descended  to  the  other 
side.  A large  lagoon  lay  at  our  feet,  and  away  to  the  east 
a succession  of  plains  extended  to  the  encampment  called 
Margensho. 

These  plains  were  bounded  for  a short  distance  on  the 
north  side  by  a range  of  hills,  which  came  to  an  abrupt 
termination  at  the  end  of  the  lagoon,  on  the  south  side  by 
another  range  gradually  sloping  to  the  eastward,  and  on  the 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


277 


western  side  by  the  rocky  heights  we  were  descending.  The 
view  would  have  been  enjoyable  on  a fine  day,  but  in  such 
a Patagonian  tempest  of  rain  and  wind,  landscapes  were  by 
no  means  appreciated.  Near  the  lagoon  was  another  herd 
of  guanaco,  some  three  thousand  strong,  who  tempted  us  to 
a vain  endeavour  to  encircle  them,  but  they  descried  us 
before  we  could  approach  within  a mile,  and  were  soon  lost 
to  sight  on  the  plains  leading  towards  Margensho.  Whilst 
riding  down  the  edge  of  the  hills  Casimiro  pointed  out  some 
thyme,  a little  of  which  we  gathered  to  flavour  our  soup 
with  in  the  evening.  We  then  descended,  and  sheltered 
under  the  overhanging  bank  of  a dry  watercourse  leading 
to  the  lagoon.  The  women  and  remainder  of  the  cavalcade 
shortly  arrived,  and  loading  my  page  with  firewood,  to  his 
intense  disgust  and  the  extreme  delight  of  every  one  else, 
we  proceeded  a little  farther  to  the  south,  where  the  pasture 
was  good,  and  established  ourselves  for  the  night. 

The  following  morning  early  we  all  started  to  hunt,  and 
were  more  successful  than  on  the  previous  day,  though  the 
wind  was  blowing  a fearful  gale  from  the  S.W.,  with  occa- 
sional storms  of  sleet.  Towards  the  afternoon,  by  which 
time,  having  finished  our  hunting,  we  were  snug  enough 
under  the  toldo,  it  rained  hard,  and  with  the  rain  the  Indians 
commenced  to  arrive,  till  before  dusk  a town  of  toldos 
occupied  the  borders  of  the  hills. 

Casimiro  this  evening  sent  for  volunteers  to  go  in  with 
me  as  messengers  or  chasquis  to  Patagones,  on  our  arrival 
at  Margensho,  now  but  one  march  distant.  But. of  those 
previously  so  desirous  to  go  on,  not  one  appeared,  nor 
would  any  one  Indian  consent  to  lend  his  horses  for  so  long 
a journey.  The  chieftain  was  sadly  put  out,  and  cursed  the 
caciquillos  all  round.  He  then  tried  to  dissuade  me  from 
going  myself,  saying  that  it  was  a great  distance,  that  the 
desert  or  travesia  was  a fearful  place,  that  I should  probably 
lose  my  horses,  that  many  people  had  starved,  at  the  same 
time  wishing  me  to  lend  my  horses  to  some  other  Indian. 


278 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


He  narrated  how  he  himself  had  occupied  twelve  days  in 
crossing  it,  and  had  been  obliged  to  abandon  a horse  and  the 
saddle  and  gear  of  his  remaining  steed,  and  with  difficulty, 
nearly  starved,  on  foot,  and  driving  his  almost  worn-out 
horse  before  him,  had  made  his  way  to  a station. 

At  the  same  time  a young  Indian  started  to  cross  the 
desert,  but  lost  his  way,  and,  quoth  the  cacique  impres- 
sively, ‘ His  bones  are  there  now.’ 

One  statement,  that  the  chahals  or  white  thorns  grew 
higher  than  the  horses’  heads  and  tore  the  unlucky  riders’ 
mantles  to  pieces  as  they  forced  their  way  through  them,  my 
own  after-experience  fully  verified.  I,  however,  adhered 
firmly  to  my  original  intention  of  going,  as  agreed  to  by 
him,  and  conveying  with  my  own  hand  the  letter  I had 
written  : and  it  was  finally  settled  that  Mena,  Naclio,  and  I 
should,  on  arriving  at  Margensho,  start  on  our  journey  as 
chasquis.  Casimiro’s  real  motive  for  dissuading  me  was 
distrust,  as  we  had  on  two  or  three  occasions  disagreed,  and 
once  nearly  come  to  blows  ; he  was  therefore  afraid  that  I 
should,  on  arriving  at  Patagones,  work  against  his  interests 
and  give  him  a bad  character.  .Mena,  who  had  taken  a 
great  fancy  to  me,  volunteered  for  the  purpose  of  keeping 
an  eye  on  Nacho,  who  was  my  ‘ bete  noire,’  and  not  to  be 
trusted. 

These  arrangements  having  been  brought  to  a satisfactory 
conclusion,  we  proceeded  to  the  toldo  of  a friend  and 
assisted  at  the  ceremony  performed  by  the  doctor  of  curing 
a sick  child,  more  especially  concerning  the  part  of  painting 
with  red  ochre,  killing  and  eating  a white  mare. 

On  this  occasion  the  parents  formally  invited  the  principal 
chiefs  and  their  relations  and  friends,  and  the  ceremony 
commenced  as  follows.  All  the  men  were  either  sitting  or 
standing  in  a circle,  in  the  centre  of  which  sat  the  mother 
holding  her  infant  in  her  arms.  The  doctor  then  came  in, 
and  under  his  direction  the  mother  plastered  the  infant  from 
head  to  foot  with  white  clay,  the  wizard  meanwhile  mutter- 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


279 


ing  incantations ; -when  this  was  completed,  the  doctor 
disappeared  for  a minute  or  two,  returning  with  an  orna- 
mented hide  bag  in  his  hand  ; this  he  opened,  and  produced 
from  the  bottom  some  charms  carefully  enveloped  in  rags, 
which  he,  after  performing  some  mystic  hocus-pocus,  re- 
turned to  the  bag.  He  next  took  the  baby  from  the  mother, 
and  patting  it  gently  on  the  head,  and  muttering  in  a low 
tone,  dipped  its  head  into  the  bag  two  or  three  times,  and 
then  returned  it  to  its  mother.  A white  mare  was  brought 
up,  and,  after  being  daubed  all  over  with  hand-marks  of  red 
ochre,  was  knocked  on  the  head,  cooked,  and  eaten  on  the 
spot,  the  heart,  liver,  and  lungs  being  hung  on  a lance,  to 
the  top  of  which  was  suspended  the  bag  containing  the 
charms.  Care  was  taken,  as  in  other  ceremonies,  that 
no  dogs  approached  to  eat  the  offal,  which  was  buried,  the 
head  and  backbone  being  removed  to  a neighbouring  hill. 

On  the  9th  of  May  we  started,  arriving  the  same  evening 
at  Margensho,  which  was,  as  the  Indians  had  previously 
described  it  to  me,  a large  grassy  plain  lying  below  a step 
or  barranca,  and  watered  by  a brook  running  N.E.  and  S.W. 
During  the  hunt  over  the  previously  described  plains  there 
was  nothing  remarkable  except  the  extreme  scarcity  of  game, 
skunks  alone  being  numerous ; fortunately  I killed  a male 
guanaco,  and  as  I had  the  previous  day  corrected  my  page 
he  brought  up  the  horses  most  carefully,  so  that  all  was  in 
readiness  for  an  early  start.  Before  sundown  the  chiefs 
were  collected,  and  the  contents  of  the  letter  read  to  them  ; 
they  all  appeared  pleased,  and  after  adding  a postscript 
setting  forth  the  names  and  number  of  the  chiefs  who  re- 
quired rations  I closed  the  correspondence. 

Hinchel  came  and  provided  me  with  tobacco,  asking  as  a 
favour  that  if  any  of  his  friends  in  the  settlement  should 
inquire  if  he  got  drunk  when  occasion  offered  in  the  pampas, 
I would  bear  witness  to  his  sobriety ; he  also  entreated 
that  I would  either  return  to  the  Indians  or  remain  in 
Patagones  until  he  arrived,  which  latter  I promised  to  do. 


280 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


At  the  risk  of  repetition,  it  mustjbe  said  this  man  was  the 
best  Tehuelche,  excepting  perhaps  Waki,  I ever  had  any- 
thing to  do  with  ; he  was  frank,  honest,  generous,  sober, 
and  in  every  way  fit  for  a chief ; a ready  and  skilled  work- 
man in  all  Indian  trades,  from  breaking  a colt  to  constructing 
a saddle  or  silver  necklace ; his  only  vice  being  gambling, 
but  for  which  last  habit  he  would  have  been  the  richest  and 
most  powerful  chief,  as  he  was  universally  respected. 

Orkeke  also  sent  for  me,  and  put  into  my  hand  a packet 
of  tobacco  for  the  journey,  which  he  assured  me  would  be 
long,  tedious,  and  dangerous.  I promised  to  ask  particularly 
for  his  ration,  and  if  the  Government  would  not  grant  it,  to 
make  him  a present  myself.  He  wished  me  to  return,  but 
I pointed  out  to  him  that  for  various  reasons  it  would  be 
better  not,  so  we  parted,  agreeing  to  meet  in  Patagones. 

It  may  be  as  well  to  mention  that  if  the  post  of  chasqui 
or  herald,  as  he  may  be  styled,  be  an  honourable  one,  for 
which  as  a rule  only  the  near  relatives  of  chiefs  are  em- 
ployed, the  duties  are  sufficiently  hard.  The  chasqui  is 
expected  to  ride  like  ‘ young  Lochinvar,’  as  fast  and  as  far 
each  day  as  the  horse  will  carry  him  ; he  must  not  turn 
aside  or  halt  even  for  the  purpose  of  hunting,  and  unless  an 
ostrich  or  other  game  cross  his  path  may  have  to  go  without 
supper  after  his  day’s  fifty  or  sixty  miles’  journey,  while 
his  bed  and  bedding  are  the  ground  and  mantle.  Of  course 
endurance,  sobriety,  and  reliable  steadiness  of  purpose  are 
essential  qualifications,  especially  if  the  distance  to  be 
travelled  over  be  great.  And  Nacho  had  always  approved 
himself  an  excellent  chasqui,  and  was  an  unerring  guide 
even  across  the  trackless  travesia. 

When  the  chasqui  falls  in  with  other  Indians  on  the 
march,  or  an  encampment,  he  is  ceremoniously  received  and 
honourably  entertained,  and  it  is  usually  expected  that  in 
case  of  need  he  will  be  supplied  with  fresh  horses  to  prose- 
cute his  mission. 

The  following  morning  at  daylight  another  consultation 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


281 


took  place,  and  the  letter  had  to  be  again  produced,  and 
another  postscriptum  added.  I then  took  down  in  my  note- 
book the  immediate  requirements  of  Casimiro  and  other 
friends,  which,  according  to  agreement,  were  to  be  sent 
back  by  Mena  and  Nacho,  myself  remaining  in  the  settle- 
ment until  the  arrival  of  Casimiro,  when  we  were  to  proceed 
together  to  Buenos  Ayres  either  by  land,  via  Bahia  Blanca, 
or  by  steamer. 

At  about  eight  o’clock,  when  the  rime  of  the  frost  was 
just  cleared  off  the  grass,  we,  after  bidding  adieu  to  all 
friends,  caught  our  horses  and  started.  I took  with  me 
only  my  suit  of  clothes  in  a bag,  and  the  letters.  Each  of 
the  party  was  provided  'with  a piece  of  meat  from  the 
guanaco  I had  slain  the  previous  day  by  way  of  provision, 
and  with  two  horses  apiece  we  were  at  length  en  route,  the 
old  women  chanting  melodiously  to  keep  the  devil  out  of 
our  way.  My  page  affected  great  distress  at  my  departure, 
but  as  he  had  my  remaining  horses  to  take  charge  of,  and  a 
legacy  of  a mantle  I had  no  particular  use  for,  having  worn 
it  almost  without  interruption  since  leaving  Santa  Cruz,  he 
was,  in  all  probability,  delighted  to  see,  as  he  thought,  the 
last  of  me  as  we  disappeared  over  the  ridge. 

We  travelled  slowly  for  the  first  half  hour,  and  had  just 
released  our  spare  horses  from  the  lazos,  which  hitherto  had 
restrained  them  from  rejoining  their  fellows,  wThen  we  heard 
a shout  behind  us,  and  an  Indian  appeared  driving  a troop 
of  horses.  He  was  from  the  encampment,  and  being  a 
Pampa  was  en  route  to  join  his  tribe,  whom  he  expected  to 
meet  somewhere  about  Yalchita,  five  days’  journey  on,  and 
from  whom  we  were  to  get  fresh  horses  wherewith  to  cross 
the  travesia  to  the  settlements.  This  addition  to  our  party 
was  unexpected,  but  we  considered  the  more  the  merrier,  and 
three  at  any  rate  is  an  awkward  number  to  travel  sociably 
together.  Putting  our  horses  to  a hand  canter,  we  now 
regularly  started,  leaving  care  behind,  and  looking  forward 
to  bread,  coffee,  and  other  long-untasted  good  things.  We 


282 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


passed  the  time  in  talking  over  what  we  would  get,  how  we 
should  be  received,  and  in  smoking  and  singing.  Our  route 
lay  along  the  barranca,  which  changed  as  we  proceeded  in 
a N.E.  direction,  to  higher  rugged  hills  interspersed  with 
sandy  valleys  covered  with  scrub  and  incense  bushes. 

By  nightfall  we  had  arrived  at  a pointed  hill,  under  the 
brow  of  which  we  encamped.  We  had  seen  plenty  of  ostrich 
and  guanaco,  but  had  not  delayed  to  hunt,  only  pausing  to 
pick  up  an  armadillo  that  happened  to  be  basking  in  our 
road . 

On  dismounting  we  secured  all  the  horses  with  lazos  or 
maneos,  as  they  might  probably  be  inclined  to  stray  away. 
After  gathering  a little  firewood,  kindling  a fire,  and  dis- 
cussing the  armadillo  and  a small  piece  of  meat  each,  we 
wrapped  ourselves  in  our  mantles  and  lay  down  to  sleep, 
every  now  and  again  during  the  night  getting  up  to  have  a 
look  at  the  horses.  The  morning  star  was  shining  brightly 
above  the  horizon  when  we  saddled  up,  and  crossing  the 
brow  of  the  hill  mounted  to  an  adjoining  pampa,  where  the 
rocky  nature  of  the  ground  obliged  our  unshod  horses  to  go 
at  a foot  pace.  Added  to  this  a hitter  cold  wind  and  small 
driving  rain  were  not  improving  to  the  temper,  until  after 
an  hour  or  two  of  difficult  and  slow  travelling,  the  sun  rose 
magnificently  and  dispelled  the  mists  and  drizzle,  and  re- 
stored our  cheerfulness.  We  at  length  descended  into  a 
ravine  leading  to  a series  of  small  valleys,  containing  here 
and  there  ponds  covered  with  teal  and  other  water  birds. 
We  travelled  at  a gallop  through  the  same  description  of 
country  till  five  p.m.,  when,  after  passing  a high  barren 
plateau,  similar  to  that  encountered  at  starting,  we  sud- 
denly came  to  an  abrupt  declivity,  at  the  bottom  of 
which,  in  a plain  extending  for  about  five  miles,  lay  a large 
salina. 

We  descended  where  it  was  feasible,  and  after  stopping  to 
get  a little  salt,  proceeded  to  encamp  near  a small  spring  of 
fresh  water.  About  a mile  to  the  eastward  large  herds  of 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


283 


guanaco  and  several  ostrich  were  visible  in  the  plain,  and 
near  our  halting-place  we  found  the  tracks  of  a puma,  for 
which  we  searched  diligently,  but  •without  success. 

After  securing  our  horses,  as  on  the  previous  night,  we 
dined,  minus  armadillo,  off  a piece  of  scraggy  meat,  and 
turned  in.  The  salt  from  the  salina  was  of  excellent  quality ; 
it  was  necessary  to  remove  a little  of  the  upper  surface, 
which  had  slightly  deteriorated  by  exposure  to  the  atmo- 
sphere, and  then  we  cut  out  cakes  of  salt  like  pieces  of  ice, 
which  served  for  plates.  It  is  a strange  fact  that  both  into 
this  and  other  salinas  small  rivulets  of  fresh  water  flowed, 
fed  by  springs  in  the  neighbouring  hills. 

The  next  morning  (if  it  could  be  so  called)  at  the  same 
horn-  we  were  in  the  saddle,  and  traversing  the  plain  crossed 
some  ridges  of  moderate  height,  and  continued  passing 
through  a tract  of  country  thickly  wooded  with  incense  and 
other  bushes.  About  two  p.m.  we  arrived  at  a rivulet  of 
water,  near  which  were  marks  of  a recent  encampment ; after 
examining  these,  we  came  to  the  conclusion  that  a week  had 
perhaps  elapsed  since  the  occupants  had  left.  We  travelled 
forward  at  our  utmost  speed  over  ground  of  much  the  same 
description,  diversified  now  and  again  by  ranges  of  low  hills, 
putting  up  occasionally  a partridge,  of  which  birds  we  observed 
two  different  species,  one  crested,  and  nearly  as  large  as  a 
hen  pheasant,  and  the  other  smaller  than  an  English  bird, 
and  which  took  only  short  flights  and  then  cowered — and 
were  fortunate  enough  to  kill  a couple.  The  sun  went  down 
behind  some  hills,  and  still  we  found  no  suitable  place  to 
halt  in ; at  last,  however,  we  came  to  some  ponds  of  water, 
where  we  all,  being  pretty  well  tired,  dismounted,  and 
tethering  two  of  the  horses  allowed  the  remainder  to  go 
loose.  We  found  the  water  brackish,  though  drinkable,  but 
the  animals  would  scarcely  touch  it,  and  wandered  about, 
necessitating  a watch  on  them  all  night ; this  was  rather 
weary  work,  especially  as  a sharp  frost  came  on,  and  with  all 
our  care,  at  starting-time  two  horses  were  missing.  After  a 


284 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


search  of  an  hour  they  were  found,  having  wandered  in 
search  of  better  water,  and,  wiser  than  ourselves,  found  out 
a spring  about  two  miles  to  the  east. 

The  sun  was  up  before  we  got  away,  after  warming  and 
eating  the  last  of  our  food,  which  we  had  cooked  overnight  : 
it  was  dry  and  dusty,  and  all  the  washing  in  the  world  could 
not  have  got  the  grit  out  of  it ; however,  we  laughed  over 
it,  saying  we  would  soon  have  a bottle  of  wine  to  wash  away 
the  dirt  from  our  throats.  One  thing  we  congratulated  our- 
selves on  was  being  well  provided  with  tobacco,  and  although 
we  boasted  no  pipe,  mine  having  been  lost  at  a previous 
encampment,  Casimiro’s  correspondence  with  Foyel  and 
Cheoeque,  which  I had  carefully  kept,  provided  us  with 
cigarette  papers.  We  rode  on  accordingly,  rejoicing,  and 
passing  out  of  this  wooded  country  traversed  a succession  of 
high  pampas,  set  with  small  blocks  of  granite  exactly  re- 
sembling paving-stones,  and  placed  as  thickly  and  regularly 
as  if  paviors  had  been  at  work.  The  appearance  of  a 
London  street  undergoing  repair  brought  this  singular 
formation  vividly  to  my  mind.  These  pampas  terminated  in 
waterworn  cliffs  thickly  strewn  with  stones,  and  as  our  horses 
scrambled  like  cats  up  the  slopes,  their  hoofs  sent  the  stones 
clattering  down,  and  they  found  it  hard  to  keep  their  footing. 
At  the  foot  of  the  cliffs  were  watered  valleys,  and  whilst 
descending  into  one  of  these  valleys  I noticed  for  the  first 
time  the  algarroba  thorn,  which  was  in  fruit.  There  were 
two  sorts,  one  with  black  fruit,  which  Nacho  warned  me  not 
to  touch,  as  it  was  poisonous,  the  other  bearing  yellow  pods, 
which  though  somewhat  dry,  as  the  season  was  so  advanced, 
we  plucked  and  ate  as  we  rode  along,  the  taste  proving  some- 
thing between  tamarinds  and  peach. 

Near  a lagoon  in  one  of  these  valleys  we  halted  for  a few 
minutes,  and  on  pursuing  our  journey  espied  a horseman  with 
a troop  of  led  horses  approaching  from  the  opposite  side.  I 
had  halted  for  a moment  and  saw  my  companions  rein  up,  and 
racing  up  to  know  the  cause,  observed  him.  When  within 


GEYLUM  TO  PATAGONES. 


285 


200  or  300  yards,  all  halted  ; and  Nacho  rode  forward,  and 
ceremonious  explanations  ensued,  followed  by  formal  intro- 
ductions. He  was  a Pampa  Indian  outward  bound  to  join 
those  mentioned  as  having  passed  us  eastward  of  Margen- 
sho  ; he  gave  us  news  that  Jackechan’s,  Teneforo’s,  and  other 
Indians  were  in  a place  called  Trinita,  some  four  hours’ 
gallop  only  distant.  When  he  found  that  I was  ‘ Anglish,’ 
he  spoke  in  high  praise  of  my  countrymen  whom  he  had  met 
in  Rio  Negro. 

This  man  was  a perfect  picture ; he  was  splendidly  mounted, 
and  had  a troop  of  horses  all  as  good  as  the  one  he  bestrode. 
He  was  well  dressed  in  ponchos  and  white  drawers,  and  wore 
a silk  handkerchief  round  his  head.  Over  his  saddle  was  a 
poncho  containing,  as  we  supposed,  a store  of  yerba,  flour, 
or  other  luxuries,  and  he  had  a hold,  careless,  good- 
humoured  face,  with  restless  eyes ; altogether  he  gave  one 
an  idea  of  the  imaginary  generous  bandits  one  reads  of  in 
novels,  and  to  make  the  character  complete  it  turned  out 
afterwards  that  he  had  almost  certainly  stolen  the  horses 
from  Trinita. 

After  five  minutes’  conversation,  we  started  in  opposite 
directions,  and  our  party  pressed  on  at  speed.  From  the 
steep  hill  above  the  valley  we  saw,  to  our  joy,  the  smoke  of 
hunting  parties  apparently  not  far  off.  However,  it  was 
four  o’clock  when  we  arrived  in  the  vicinity  of  the  fires  in  a 
green  pastured  valley.  From  one  of  the  two  toldos  pitched 
there,  a man  emerged  with  a mate  pot  in  his  hand  and  a 
bombilia  or  reed  used  for  imbibing  mate,  like  straws  for 
sherry  cobblers,  in  his  mouth.  As  these  people  proved  not  to 
be  the  Indians  we  wanted,  after  saluting  him  we  galloped  on, 
and  crossing  the  valley,  where  we  had  to  jump  our  horses 
over  a brook,  ascended  the  opposite  hill.  A new  growth  of 
bush  growing  sixteen  feet  high,  with  long  switches  like  osiers, 
forced  itself  unpleasantly  on  our  attention,  as,  when  riding 
fast,  they  sprang  back  into  one’s  face  in  the  most  painfully 
annoying  manner.  On  the  hillside  we  overtook  and  passed 


286 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


a caravan  of  women  travelling  in  the  same  direction  as  our- 
selves, and  from  the  summit  of  the  range  saw  in  the  valley 
below  two  different  groups  of  thirty  or  forty  toldos  each, 
about  half  a mile  apart.  Galloping  on  we  arrived,  about 
five  p.m.,  at  the  nearest  tolderia ; but  on  inquiring  for 
Patricio,  to  whom  we  had  been  directed  to  go  by  Casimiro, 
found  that  he  belonged  to  the  others,  to  which  we  proceeded, 
and  were  duly  received,  our  horses,  &c.,  taken  care  of,  and 
ourselves  ushered  with  all  ceremony  into  the  presence  of 
Patricio  (a  half-bred  Pampa  and  Tehuelche).  After  the  hour’s 
etiquette  of  answering  questions,  we  were  each  given  one 
rib  of  a guanaco  to  eat.  I was  so  hungry  that  I could  have 
eaten  a dozen  at  least,  so,  on  the  plea  of  washing,  started  off 
to  look  for  Jackechan’s  toldo,  which  I shortly  found,  and 
was  received  with  open  arms  by  my  friend  and  El  Sourdo. 
After  his  ‘ missus  ’ had  given  me  some  food,  followed  by  the 
luxury  of  a mate  with  sugar,  Jackechan  related  his  proceed- 
ings subsequent  to  leaving  our  party. 

After  a few  days’  march  in  the  direction  of  the  Chupat,  he 
came  across  some  cattle,  which  were  caught  and  killed,  and 
then,  whilst  in  the  same  spot,  he  despatched  the  messenger 
to  Chupat  with  the  letter,  who  returned  in  fifteen  days  with 
an  answer,  but  without  any  stores. 

The  letter,  carefully  wrapped  in  a piece  of  old  linen  which 
had  served  as  the  envelope  to  my  own  epistle,  was  cere- 
moniously handed  to  me  by  the  light  of  a blaze  produced  by 
some  grease  thrown  upon  the  fire.  I read  and  interpreted 
the  contents  to  Jackechan.  The  writer — Mr.  Hughes,  if  I 
recollect  rightly — expressed  his  pleasure  at  hearing  of  my 
safety,  but  regretted  his  inability  to  forward  any  stores  or 
clothing,  as  the  supply  in  the  colony  was  extremely  scanty, 
owing  to  the  non-arrival  of  the  ship  with  Mr.  Lewis  Jones 
on  board,  which  had  been  expected  for  some  months.  It 
need  scarcely  be  said  that  I had  been  quite  unaware  of  the 
privations  endured  by  these  unfortunate  colonists,  which  the 
despatches  of  Commander  Dennistoun  have  made  known  to 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


287 


the  public  during  the  preparation  of  these  pages  for  the  press, 
and  to  which  reference  will  be  made  in  the  ensuing  chapter. 
Jackechan,  after  the  return  of  his  messenger,  proceeded  to 
Margensho,  in  the  vicinity  of  which  he  met  the  parties 
under  Teneforo,  Patricio,  Antonio,  and  other  petty  chiefs. 
These  all  united,  and,  sending  into  Patagcnes,  obtained 
liquor  and  other  stores,  with  which,  as  before  mentioned 
they  had  a drink  for  ten  days,  but  no  quarrels  or  fights  took 
place — a fact  which  redounds  to  the  credit  of  the  chiefs. 
After  waiting  a month  for  our  party,  they,  owing  to  the 
scarcity  of  game,  had  come  by  easy  stages  to  this  place 
(Trinita).  Jackechan  then  explained  that  the  first  toldos 
were  those  of  the  Pampa  Indians,  under  Teneforo  and  Cham- 
payo,  the  former  being  absent  in  Patagones,  getting  his 
rations  of  animals ; his  Indians  are  pure  Pampas,  and  are 
often  called  Iverekinches,*  or  armadilloes,  for  some  reason 
unknown  to  me.  Some  of  them  are  in  the  service  of  the 
Argentine  Government,  and  liable  to  be  called  upon  by 
Linares,  chief  of  the  tame  Indians.  The  remaining  toldos 
were  those  belonging  to  the  Indians  under  Antonio  and 
Patricio,  who  were  composed  of  mixed  Tehuelches  and 
Pampas.  The  two  encampments  were  situated  about  half  a 
mile  apart,  separated  by  a winding  stream,  in  some  places 
concealed  by  most  unusually  high  reeds.  The  position  was 
entirely  surrounded  on  the  eastern,  southern,  and  western 
sides  by  high  rocky  eminences  ; but  to  the  north  the  valley 
apparently  continued  for  some  miles  ; its  breadth  was  about 
three  miles,  and  everywhere  in  the  vicinity  of  the  stream, 
which  in  some  places  had  overflowed  its  banks  and  formed  a 
marsh,  the  most  luxuriant  pasture  was  growing. 

On  returning  to  Patricio’s  toldo,  I formally  asked  for  the 
necessary  horses  to  prosecute  our  journey,  but  was  refused  on 
the  grounds  of  his  having  none  to  spare ; so  we  determined, 
as  our  horses  showed  symptoms  of  fatigue  and  one  was  lame, 
to  give  them  one  day’s  rest  before  proceeding.  We  passed 
* Quirquincho. 


288 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


the  following  day  with  our  friends,  and  I made  acquaintance 
with  the  petty  chief  Champayo,  for  whom  I -wrote  a letter 
requesting  a ration  which  was  due  to  him.  He  was  very 
civil,  and  presented  an  Indian  to  me  named  Luiz  Aguirre. 
This  man  had  been  brought  up  in  Patagones,  whence  he  had 
received  his  names,  his  parents,  I believe,  having  been 
killed.  He  was  a very  intelligent  man,  and  had  formerly 
been  in  the  troop  of  Linares,  but  had  left  disgusted  with  the 
quarrelling  and  generally  mutinous  state  of  those  Indians, 
and  taken  to  the  Pampa,  where  he  could  live  a free  and 
happy  life  with  his  wife — at  least  so  he  affirmed. 

After  we  had  taken  various  mates  together,  Champayo,  on 
my  mentioning  the  cause  of  our  not  proceeding  that  day, 
said,  ‘ Your  people  shall  not  want  for  horses.  I will  supply 
them,  and  send  Luiz  Aguirre  in  with  you,  and  you  can  give 
him  the  answer  about  my  ration.’  I afterwards  visited,  at 
his  own  request,  the  cacique  Antonio,  for  whom  I also  wrote 
a letter  requesting  that  his  ration  should  be  sent  to  him  at 
the  Guardia  of  Sauce  Blanco,  as,  owing  to  having  lost  his 
troop  of  horses  in  a storm,  he  could  scarcely  reach  the  Upper 
Guardia.  This  was  true,  as  at  the  first  toldos  we  had  visited 
in  the  neighbouring  valley  in  Trinita  we  had  been  informed 
of  Antonio’s  loss,  which  was  most  probably  a gain  to  our 
well-dressed  bandit  friend ; but  he  had  some  enemies  on  the 
road  to  Patagones,  which  was  the  real  reason  of  his  not  going 
as  far  as  the  Upper  Guardia. 

After  dinner,  having  asked  me  all  about  our  proceedings, 
he  commenced  to  give  me  advice  as  to  what  I should  do  on 
arriving  at  Patagones.  He  assured  me  that  I should  get 
employment  readily,  but  especially  cautioned  me  against 
drink,  as  the  commandante  disliked  drunkards,  and  would 
not  encourage  them ! 

At  a late  hour  I retired  to  Patricio’s  toldo,  and  coiled  up 
in  one  corner.  The  next  morning  we  were  getting  our 
horses  ready  for  a start,  when  a hoy  galloped  into  camp  with 
the  news  that  people  were  coming  in  from  Patagones. 


GEYLUM  TO  PATAGONES. 


289 


Everybody  at  once  mounted  and  went  to  escort  in  the  new 
arrivals,  who  proved  to  be  Teneforo  himself  and  two  of  his 
followers.  They  had  brought  a hundred  head  of  horses  and 
cattle  as  far  as  Yalchita,  two  days’  journey  from  Trinita, 
and  had  left  them  there,  bringing  on  with  them  only  some 
liquor  and  yerba,  which  were  at  once  unloaded.  After  I 
had  been  presented  to  the  newly-arrived  chief,  who  hailed 
me  as  a brother,  and  honoured  me  by  a place  among  the 
four  caciques,  who,  pannikins  in  hand,  walked  round  the 
lances  in  due  performance  of  the  ceremony  of  blessing  the 
liquor,  already  described,  the  drinking  commenced. 

When  the  people  arrived  the  sun  had  just  risen,  and  by 
ten  o’clock,  most  of  the  liquor,  which  consisted  of  some  gin 
and  caiia,  or  white  rum,  had  disappeared.  Many  of  the 
Indians  were  intoxicated,  but  all  after  a merry,  good- 
tempered  fashion,  which  it  had  never  been  my  luck  to  see 
before.  After  imbibing  freely  enough  with  my  numerous 
friends — who,  if  it  had  been  left  to  them,  would  have  made 
me  as  drunk  as  themselves — I mounted  my  horse,  and  after 
a bathe  amongst  the  tall  reeds  on  the  borders  of  the  stream, 
returned  to  the  toldo,  where  I found  the  aged  Patricio 
singing  to  himself  in  a very  maudlin  state.  By  sundown  all 
were  sober  again,  and  Patricio  imparted  to  me  that  he 
intended  himself  to  proceed  with  us,  as  well  as  some  other 
friends,  his  wife,  and  two  or  three  other  women,  but  that  we 
were  to  travel  by  the  lower  route,  which,  though  longer,  was 
easier  and  safer  than  the  shorter  and  upper  road,  where  the 
thorns  grew  higher  and  thicker  : the  latter  is  usually  selected 
in  summer,  when  water  is  scarce,  of  which  at  this  season 
there  was  no  danger. 

The  following  morning,  bidding  adieu  to  Antonio,  Cham- 
payo,  and  Jackechan — whose  ration  I had  promised  to  pro- 
cure— we  started,  eleven  men  and  four  women,  taking  plenty 
of  horses,  besides  a troop  of  mares  for  an  Indian  called 
Hernandez,  settled  near  the  Guardia  Chica,  the  mares  being 
intended  for  the  purpose  of  treading  out  his  crop  of  corn. 

19 


290 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


We  were  soon  out  of  sight  of  the  encampment  at  Trinita,  and 
proceeding  at  either  a gallop  or  a trot  through  an  undulating 
country,  in  which  incense,  algarroba,  and  other  shrubs 
abounded,  arrived  near  sunset  at  a stream,  on  the  north  side 
of  which  we  encamped,  amongst  some  thick  bushes.  A little 
distance  to  the  west  lay  a large  salina,  from  which,  several 
miles  across,  the  place  takes  its  name,  being  called  Hitchin- 
kaik,  or  Salt  Hill.  The  stream  flows  round  one  side  of  the 
salina,  and  is,  I think,  the  same  that  we  subsequently  crossed 
near  Yalchita.  This  time  we  travelled  in  great  style,  the 
women  having  brought  with  them  stores  of  horse-meat  and 
yerha. 

After  dinner  we  all  sat  round  the  fire  and  took  a mate, 
and  some  of  an  Indian  sweetmeat,  a yellow  paste  made  from 
the  algarroba  bean  pounded  and  mixed  with  water.  Old 
Patricio,  who  had  turned  over  a new  leaf,  and  grown  quite 
frisky  after  the  drink,  said  that  I was  a fortunate  man, 
having  a wife  with  me  ; alluding  to  one  of  the  wives  of  the 
cacique  El  Ingles,  who  was  travelling  with  us  to  rejoin  her 
husband  near  Patagones. 

The  following  morning  at  daylight  we  again  started,  and 
travelling  over  much  the  same  description  of  country  as  on 
the  previous  day,  arrived  about  midday  at  the  place  where 
Teneforo  had  left  his  cattle.  Here  we  dismounted  and 
refreshed  ourselves  off  the  round  berries  about  the  size  of  a 
turnip-radish,  the  fruit  of  a small  plant  growing  by  the 
margin  of  the  water,  which  had  a very  pleasant  taste.  The 
river  here  had  a fringe  of  tussocks  of  pampa  grass,  under 
which  we  reclined  and  smoked. 

The  cattle  were  grouped  about  amongst  these  tussocks, 
and  Golwin,  Jackechan’s  son  with  the  light  hair,  amused 
himself  by  vain  attempts  to  count  them.  After  half  an  hour’s 
dawdling  we  proceeded,  leaving  behind  one  of  Mena’s  horses 
which  was  done  up,  and,  following  more  or  less  the  line  of 
the  river,  we  arrived,  about  three  p.m.,  at  the  encampment 
of  Yalchita.  As  it  was  early  in  the  day,  some  of  the  party 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


291 


started  to  hunt,  but  returned  empty-handed.  We  filled  up 
the  skins  and  water-bottles,  in  anticipation  of  entering  the 
travesia  the  following  day;  and,  after  the  usual  meal  and 
mate,  sought  out  each  his  own  particular  nest  in  the  pampa 
grass,  and  went  to  sleep  without  fear  of  the  horses  straying 
far,  the  pasture  and  water  being  both  of  the  best  quality. 
As  it  was  in  this  encampment  that,  according  to  Casimiro, 
the  defunct  Mendoza  had  discovered  gold,  I prospected  care- 
fully for  any  signs,  but  only  noticed  that  parts  of  the 
adjoining  pampa  were  strewn,  amongst  other  pebbles,  with 
pieces  of  quartz.  At  the  usual  hour  we  started  to  commence 
the  ascent  to  the  travesia,  or  desert,  which  rose  above  us 
to  the  north,  in  a high  plateau.  On  ascending  a short 
distance,  we  observed  on  our  left  hand  (to  the  westward)  a 
salina  of  several  leagues  in  length,  which  bordered  the  edge 
of  the  travesia  in  about  an  east  or  west  direction.  I am 
inclined  to  think  that  the  river  Yalchita  loses  itself  in  this 
salina.  This  river  is  subject  to  great  floods,  evidences  of 
which  were  visible  in  the  drift  weeds  and  rubbish  clinging 
to  the  bushes  and  shrubs  throughout  the  valley,  evidently 
left  there  by  the  spring  inundation.  By  a gradual  ascent 
we  at  length  reached  the  level  of  the  plateau,  and  saw  before 
us  an  interminable  dreary  expanse  strewn  with  small  shingle, 
and  covered  with  shrubs  varying  from  four  to  twelve  feet,  or 
even  higher,  and  here  and  there  small  tufts  of  grass.  No 
signs  of  life  were  visible.  The  sky  was  bright  and  clear, 
although  clouds  were  gathering  in  the  southern  horizon, 
and  the  wind  (it  nearly  always  blows  in  Patagonia)  was 
cutting.  I remarked  to  Luiz  Aguirre  that  it  would  possibly 
rain  ; his  reply,  ‘ I hope  it  will — it  will  be  splendid,  then  all 
the  lagoons  will  be  full,’  told  of  the  danger  of  drought,  but 
found  no  assent  from  me,  having  had  enough  of  wet  weather 
during  the  excursion  to  Las  Manzanas.  During  the  ride  he 
told  me  that  he  knew  the  difference  between  the  Catholic 
and  Protestant  religions,  and  of  the  two  he  preferred  the 
latter ; he  also  asked  me  if  I had  ever  been  to  China,  where 


292 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


the  tea  came  from,  and  various  other  questions  evincing  a 
considerable  amount  of  information ; and  wound  up  by  pro- 
posing that  I should  set  up  a trading  establishment  near  the 
Chupat ; Jackechan — who,  if  any  one  can  claim  it,  is  the 
real  lord  of  the  soil — having  volunteered  to  cede  the  ground 
to  me.  In  the  event  of  establishing  a store  in  that  neighbour- 
hood, this  astute  Indian  considered  that  all  the  Indian  trade 
would  be  taken  out  of  the  hands  of  the  people  of  Patagones, 
who  notoriously  used  false  weights,  besides  charging  exorbi- 
tantly for  all  articles  supplied  to  the  Indians. 

About  two  p.m.,  as  the  rough  shingle  had  already  begun 
to  tell  on  our  horses’  feet,  a halting-place  was  found  near  a 
laguna  containing  rain-water  of  the  colour  of  cafe  au  lait. 
The  horses  were  for  the  present  let  loose,  to  pick  up  the  best 
meal  they  could  off  the  stunted  grass  near  the  borders  of  the 
lagoon.  Before  dark  most  of  them  were  tethered,  and  a 
careful  watch  kept  all  night,  lest  they  should  return  to 
Yalchita  in  search  of  pasture  and  water.  After  a lengthened 
conversation  by  the  fireside — in  which  I was  informed  that 
the  track  we  were  travelling  was  called  Pigs’  Road,  from 
wild  pigs,  or  perhaps  peccaries,  having  been  killed  near  one 
of  the  lagoons  in  the  route— we  wrapped  ourselves  in  our 
mantles  and  sheltered  ourselves  like  hedgehogs  under  the 
bushes,  from  time  to  time  getting  up  to  look  round  for  the 
horses.  Next  day  we  rode  over  the  same  interminable 
desert  of  stones,  and  bushes  of  the  following  descriptions  : 
c banal  or  whitethorn  ; picayun,  furnishing  the  best  fire- 
wood ; the  osier-like  switches  before  described  ; black  bush, 
which  is  useless  for  burning,  owing  to  the  pestiferous  smell 
it  emits  ; algarroba,  incense,  which  are,  however,  very  scarce  ; 
and  some  others  whose  names  I was  unable  to  procure.  The 
chahal  is  the  only  one  that  impedes  the  traveller’s  progress, 
as  the  thorns  are  large  and  sharp.  In  the  other  road  (more 
to  the  west),  which  we  had  avoided,  although  the  distance  is 
shorter  across  the  travesia,  and  therefore  more  used  by  the 
Tehuelches.  who  dread  this  crossing,  especially  in  summer 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


293 


or  for  small  parties,  the  chahal  grows  to  the  height  of  ten 
to  fifteen  feet,  and,  like  the  ‘ waitabit  ’ thorns  in  Albania, 
renders  fast  riding  impossible. 

This  day  we  were  about  to  start  hunting,  when  a demi- 
john of  rum  was  discovered  in  a hush.  This  put  an  end  to 
the  sport,  for,  although  it  was  hidden  again  in  another  place, 
enough  was  taken  out  to  render  most  of  the  party  talkative, 
a bottle  or  two  also  being  reserved  for  discussion  at  the 
camp  fire. 

At  four  p.m.  we  encamped  by  the  side  of  a lagoon  similar 
to  the  previous  one,  and,  our  Yalchita  water  being  finished, 
diluted  the  ram  with  meal  and  water  about  the  consistency 
of  Spanish  chocolate.  I forgot  to  state  that  in  the  excite- 
ment of  the  ‘ find  ’ the  horses  were  not  looked  after,  and  on 
mustering  to  proceed,  one  of  Nacho’s  had  disappeared,  and, 
although  carefully  searched  for,  he  was  not  found  again. 

The  next  day,  despite  the  dissipations  over  night,  we 
were  in  the  saddle  at  daybreak,  and  had  hardly  traversed  a 
league  of  this  wearisome  waste  when  we  came  suddenly  upon 
seven  wild  horses.  An  effort  made  to  surround  them  failed, 
owing  to  the  difficult  nature  of  the  ground ; but  the  failure 
was  to  me  fully  made  up  by  the  magnificent  spectacle  of 
these  splendid  creatures  careering  in  their  untamed  strength 
and  beauty  across  the  plain. 

We  subsequently  hunted  and  killed  guanaco  and  ostrich, 
and  also  saw  some  hares  and  partridges.  At  about  ten  a.m. 
our  eyes  were  gladdened  by  the  sight  of  the  sea,  and  pre- 
sently the  level  plain  rose  into  more  undulating  country, 
and  from  the  crests  of  the  elevations  at  times  a full  view 
of  the  inlet  called  the  Laco  de  San  Antonio  presented  itself. 

Smoke  was  visible  ahead,  and  we  accordingly  pushed  on, 
and  made  a long  and  rapid  march,  the  surface  being  here 
altogether  free  from  the  small  stones  which  had  previously 
caused  so  much  damage  to  the  horses’  feet.  That  night  we 
halted,  as  usual,  by  the  side  of  a lagoon,  the  water  of  which 
was  not  more  than  two  inches  deep. 


294 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


Patricio  during  this  day’s  journey  pointed  out  to  me  a dry 
lagoon  near  which  efforts  had  been  made  to  sink  a well  for 
obtaining  a permanent  supply  of  water,  but,  although  the 
shaft  was  of  some  depth,  none  had  been  reached,  and  the 
work  had  been  given  up  in  despair.  It  is  a mystery  even 
to  the  Indians  where  the  guanacos,  wild  horses,  puma,  and 
other  game  that  exist  in  this  desert,  find  water,  as  these 
lagoons,  depending  entirely  on  the  rainfall  for  a supply  of 
water,  must  inevitably,  in  this  country  where  little  rain  falls, 
be  dry  for  many  months  in  the  year.  No  doubt  springs 
exist  in  hitherto  undiscovered  places. 

Before  leaving  the  travesia,  a few  remarks,  which  cannot 
claim  to  be  called  a description,  may  be  interesting. 

This  desert  consists  of  a plateau  about  three  hundred  feet 
above  the  level  of  the  valley  of  the  Rio  Negro,  stretching  to 
the  southward  more  than  thirty  leagues  to  Yalchita.  Of 
its  extent  westward  I have  no  precise  information ; but  it 
narrows  considerably  in  the  interior,  forming  an  irregular 
triangle,  with  its  base  on  the  coast,  and  its  apex  near  the 
junction  of  the  Rio  Limay  and  the  northern  streams. 

The  soil  is  either  clay  or  sand  and  gravel,  with  small 
stones  strewn  thickly  over  the  surface ; while  the  only  vege- 
tation met  with  consists  of  the  bushes  already  mentioned, 
and  scanty  tufts  of  coarse  grass. 

It  is  much  dreaded  by  travellers,  and,  after  traversing  it, 
I can  well  believe  the  stories  current  of  people  having 
perished  on  the  passage  ; the  track  once  lost  would  be  very 
difficult  to  regain  ; while  the  want  of  water  in  the  summer, 
and  the  danger  of  horses  straying  and  leaving  the  traveller 
helpless,  are  both  probable  risks.  With  all  our  watchfulness, 
two  horses  strayed  away  and  were  lost.  In  the  winter  there 
is  no  fear  of  want  of  water ; but  the  fatigue  of  travelling  is  at 
all  times  great,  and  the  horses  are  almost  worn  out  by  the 
time  that  the  desert  is  passed.  It  serves,  therefore,  as  a 
barrier,  protecting  Patagones  from  all  dangers  of  attack  by 
the  Indians  from  the  south,  who  in  their  forays  must  descend 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


295 


the  river.  A large  troop  of  horses  can  scarcely  find  pasture, 
and  after  the  rapid  journey  would  not  be  in  a condition  for 
their  riders  to  attack  with  success,  if  opposed  vigorously  by 
people  able  to  defend  themselves. 

This  district  appeared  to  form  a distinct  and  well-defined 
limit  between  the  habitats  of  various  animals ; as,  for  instance, 
the  Rhea  Darwinii,  or  smaller  ostrich  of  Patagonia,  and  the 
Rhea  Americana.  The  latter,  according  to  my  experience, 
is  never  found  to  the  south  of  it,  and  I am  at  a loss  to  under- 
stand how  Mr.  Cunningham  could  have  met  with  any  speci- 
mens of  it,  as  he  seems  to  imply.* 

The  Tehuelches  often  described  the  larger  Rhea  as  found 
north  of  the  travesia,  and  as  distinct  from  that  hunted  in 
their  country.  They  also  particularly  insisted  on  the  fact 
that  the  Gama,  or  deer — abundant  in  the  Rio  Negro  valley 
and  the  countiy  north  of  it — is  never  met  with  south  of  the 
travesia.  The  same  remark  is  true  of  the  Yiscacha  and  the 
Aguarra  (Lupus  manatus),  though  the  latter  is  probably  to 
be  met  with  in  the  spurs  of  the  Cordillera. 

Patagonia  may  thus  be  properly  considered  as  cut  off  by  the 
Rio  Negro  and  the  line  of  the  Cordillera,  and  possessing  its 
own  races  and  a separate  Fauna  and  Flora. 

It  may  be  added  that  only  one  species  of  armadillo,  the 
Quirquincho  (Dasypus  minutus,  Gay),  occurs  within  these 
limits.  The  algarroba  and  other  bushes,  though  found  in 
and  near  the  borders  of  the  travesia,  do  not  occur  south  of 
its  immediate  vicinity. 

It  was  a joyful  hour  for  all  when,  on  the  fourth  day,  after 
galloping  from  dawn  till  ten  o’clock,  we  at  length  came  in 
sight  of  the  valley,  still  three  miles  distant,  where  large 
willows — which,  by  the  way,  are  unknown  in  Patagonia,  save 
a few  at  Chupat,  probably  introduced  by  the  settlers — 
marked  the  winding  course  of  the  Rio  Negro.  We  halted 
at  the  head  of  an  abra,  or  lateral  opening  which  ran  up 
into  the  barranca  from  the  main  valley,  and  saw  in  the 
* ‘ Natural  History  of  the  Straits  of  Magellan,’  p.  134. 


296 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


distance  a solitary  rancho,  the  first  civilised  dwelling  beheld 
since  my  departure  from  Santa  Cruz. 

After  a rest,  to  enable  all  to  come  up,  some  having  lagged 
behind  perforce,  their  horses  being  hardly  able  to  limp 
along,  we  made  our  way  down  the  slope,  and  at  length 
reached  the  river,  in  which  our  thirsty  steeds  soon  drank 
their  fill. 

The  rancho,  which  belonged  to  Hernandez,  for  whom  the 
convoy  of  mares  was  intended,  was  then  visited.  The  owner 
was  absent,  but  his  Indian  wife  did  the  honours,  at  least  as 
far  as  serving  us  with  mate,  for  no  food  was  produced, 
though  all  were  dreadfully  hungry.  I wished  to  stop  and 
don  what  an  American  would  call  my  citizen's  clothes, 
thinking  that  we  should  immediately  proceed  to  the  Guardia 
I had  heard  so  much  of  from  Luiz  Aguirre ; but  he  told  me 
not  to  be  in  a hurry,  so  in  my  dirty  mantle  I remained  for 
the  present. 

After  half  an  hour’s  delay  we  left  the  rancho  and  followed 
the  south  bank  of  the  river,  which  here  was  a swift  stream 
200  yards  wide,  passing  the  farm  of  Hernandez,  where  a man 
was  occupied  in  ploughing,  and  mares  and  cattle  were  grazing. 
The  river  here  made  a bend  towards  the  southern  barranca, 
which  so  nearly  abutted  on  it  as  to  compel  us  to  ride  close 
along  the  bank.  Small  partridges  got  up  frequently,  and  I 
made  a mental  resolution  to  come  and  have  a day’s  shooting 
at  a future  period  in  the  magnificent  willows  bordering  the 
river  ; blue  pigeons  were  cooing  in  the  trees  ; and  through  an 
opening  we  caught  a glimpse,  on  the  opposite  bank,  of  a 
well-built,  comfortable-looking  estancia  in  the  foreground 
of  a wide  extent  of  rich  flat  land,  with  corral,  galpones,  and 
the  usual  surroundings,  which  Luiz  Aguirre  informed  me 
belonged  to  Sir.  Kincaid.  The  feeling  of  having  safely 
emerged  from  the  desert  into  the  settlements  put  us,  though 
very  hungry,  into  the  best  of  spirits ; and  after  a cheerful 
half-hour's  ride,  passing  on  our  road  a tumbledown,  unused 
rancho,  we  arrived  at  Sauce  Blanco,  or  ‘ White  Willow  ; ’ 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


297 


there  the  river,  sweeping  to  the  northern  side,  leaves  a wide 
rincon,  or  expanse  of  rich  alluvial  ground.  This  is  con- 
sidered as  belonging  to  the  Indians,  some  of  whom  are  always 
to  be  found  encamped  near  the  rancho,  which  belonged  to 
the  cacique  El  Ingles,  and  three  toldos  were  pitched  in  its 
vicinity. 

We  presented  to  the  chief  his  wife,  whom  we  had  brought 
with  us,  and  I was  warmly  welcomed  as  a relative,  the 
cacique  being  a nephew  of  Quintuhual.  This  chief  derives 
his  name  from  his  alleged  relationship  to  some  one  or  other 
of  the  officers  of  Fitzroy’s  surveying  expedition,  so  that  I 
was  doubly  welcome  in  my  English  and  Indian  character. 
Here  we  camped  amongst  the  pajas,  or  pampa  grass,  and, 
having  been  presented  with  a mare  and  some  pumpkins,  soon 
had  a good  fire  blazing  and  meat  and  pumpkins  cooking ; 
these  latter  being  dressed  by  cutting  them  in  halves,  taking 
out  the  seeds,  and  filling  the  interior  with  hot  ashes,  and 
then  placing  them  on  the  ashes,  the  result  being,  at  all 
events  as  it  seemed  then  to  my  taste,  delicious.  I wished 
to  proceed  direct  to  the  Guardia,  but  as  Patricio  and  the 
others  put  it  off  till  the  morrow,  in  my  ignorance  of  the  road 
and  usages  of  the  place,  I was  forced  to  ‘ do  at  Rome  as 
Rome  does.’ 

A good  wash  in  the  river  was  one  of  the  first  things 
indulged  in,  and  the  enjoyment  of  getting  rid  of  several 
days’  accumulation  of  the  dust  and  mud  of  the  travesia  can 
be  better  imagined  than  described. 

The  following  morning,  before  daylight,  we  all  bathed  in 
the  river,  and,  after  taking  mate  with  the  cacique  El  Ingles, 
and  a warm  by  the  fireside  after  sleeping  in  the  frosty  night 
air,  we  prepared  to  visit  the  Guardia.  Casting  off  the  Indian 
mantle,  I assumed  the  usual  dress  of  an  Englishman  of  the 
period,  shooting-coat,  &c.  ; and  having  been  provided  with 
fresh  horses  by  our  friend,  half  an  horn’s  gallop  brought  us  to 
the  north  bank,  opposite  the  Guardia — not,  however,  without 
misadventure,  for  as  we  made  our  way  along  the  narrow, 


298 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


uneven  horse-path,  full  of  ruts,  and  hemmed  in  by  pampa 
grass,  Luiz  Aguirre’s  horse  stumbled  and  threw  him,  rolling 
over  him  and  crushing  his  revolver  into  his  ribs. 

The  mean  appearance  of  the  much-talked-of  Guardia  at 
once  dispelled  the  ideas  of  it  derived  from  the  imaginative 
descriptions  of  the  Indians,  but  some  previous  experience  of 
Spanish  frontier  towns  saved  me  from  disappointment.  The 
settlement  consists  of  a small  fort  mounted  with  one  gun, 
a cuartel  or  barracks,  and  a few  houses,  one  or  two  built  of 
brick  and  the  others  of  adobe,  clustering  round  the  fort. 
Almost,  if  not  quite  all,  of  these  are  ‘ pulperias,’  or  grog- 
shops and  stores,  intended  for  trade  with  the  Indians,  for 
whose  transport  a launch  is  kept.  The  usual  object  first  seen 
in  frontier  towns— an  unfinished  church — is  here  conspicuous 
by  its  absence,  no  provision  for  spiritual  wants  being  made 
in  the  Guardia.  After  about  half  an  hour’s  delay  on  the 
bank,  a bustle  on  the  other  side  was  observed,  caused  by 
getting  ready  a large  launch,  which  shortly  crossed  to  our 
side  ; and  having  secured  our  horses  with  lazos  and  maneos, 
we  jumped  in,  and  I was  greeted  by  a non-commissioned 
officer,  who  congratulated  me  on  my  arrival,  stating  that  the 
Commandante,  Senior  Murga,  had  been  expecting  me  for 
some  months.  We  crossed  over  in  great  pomp,  a soldier 
playing  the  cornet  in  the  bows  of  the  boat ; and,  landing,  we 
proceeded  to  a store  kept  by  a man  named  Don  Fermin, 
■where  we  were  all  ushered  into  a room  behind  the  shop,  and 
the  Indians  exposed  their  skins  and  plumes  for  trade.  My 
friend  the  non-commissioned  officer  had  left  me,  as  I declined 
to  surrender  my  letters  to  any  one  but  the  Commandante 
in  person,  and  he  was  at  the  time  at  Patagones,  distant 
eighteen  leagues  from  this  Guardia.  Meanwhile  I watched 
the  trade  going  on  between  Don  Fermin  and  the  Indians. 

Now  and  again  people  came  and  contemplated  us,  as  if  we 
were  some  strange  sort  of  wild  animals  ; but  as  I was  out  of 
the  trading,  no  one  bid  the  stranger  welcome,  and  I formed 
a bad  idea  of  the  politeness  of  the  inhabitants,  though  per- 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES.  299 

baps  my  shaggy  hair  and  dress,  not  altogether  of  the  neatest, 
may  have  been  against  me. 

The  Indians  were  soon  in  full  enjoyment  of  some  grog  and 
biscuits,  which  they  naturally  asked  me  to  share.  After  a bite 
and  a sup,  finding  the  proceedings  slow,  I left  the  room,  and 
shortly  after  met  Mr.  Alexander  Fraser  and  Mr.  Grenfell,  the 
owners  of  an  estancia  a few  miles  lower  down  the  river ; and 
after  introducing  myself,  was  most  kindly  received,  and 
supplied  with  cash,  a civilised  medium  of  which  I had  not 
a sou  to  enable  me  to  gratify  the  desire  of  treating  my  Indian 
friends  to  a bottle  or  two  of  wine  and  spirits  and  a few 
loaves  of  bread. 

Mr.  Fraser  hospitably  pressed  me  to  come  on  to  his  esta- 
blishment at  once,  but  being  desirous  of  handing  the  letters 
to  the  Commandante  without  delay,  I returned  across  the 
river  with  the  Indians. 

A foretaste  of  Rio  Negro  manners  was  given  us  at  the 
other  side,  as  one  of  the  horses,  saddle,  lazo  and  all,  was 
missing — stolen  by  some  of  the  civilised  inhabitants.  The 
horse  belonged  to  El  Ingles,  and  had  been  lent  to  Mena  to 
go  down  from  the  encampment  to  the  Guardia ; the  lazo 
belonged  to  me. 

At  the  camp  most  of  the  people  got  more  or  less  drunk, 
and  Nacho  received  a richly- deserved  thrashing  for  being 
pugnacious,  after  which  he  was  lashed  down,  and  left  to  cool 
in  the  frost  for  an  hour. 

In  the  morning  I started  for  Patagones,  accompanied  by 
El  Ingles  and  another  Indian  ; hut  as  our  horses  proved  to 
be  too  tired  to  proceed  into  Patagones,  we  stopped  for  the 
night  in  a toldo  at  San  Xaviel,  the  head-quarters  of  Linares 
and  his  tame  Indians. 

I took  up  my  quarters  at  the  toldo  of  one  Chaloupe,  and 
after  supper,  being  desirous  of  communicating  the  political 
arrangements  to  the  chief,  proceeded  on  horseback  behind 
another  horseman,  who  proved  to  be  a brother  of  Rouque 
Pinto,  to  the  chief’s  residence,  a long,  low  house. 


300 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


After  a little  delay  I was  ushered  into  the  Sala,  where 
the  two  wives  of  the  chief  were  sitting  sewing.  The  usual 
mate  was  served,  and  I waited  long  in  vain  for  the  chief, 
who  was  away  collecting  his  followers  for  an  intended  pursuit 
of  some  of  Calficura’s  Indians,  who  had  recently  driven  off 
cattle  from  the  valley. 

At  last  I bade  good-night  to  my  fair  hostesses,  and  sum- 
moning my  companion,  who  had  been  taking  mate  in  the 
kitchen,  set  out  to  return.  We  had  scarcely  proceeded  a 
hundred  yards,  when  the  tramp  of  approaching  horsemen 
was  heard,  and  my  companion  enjoined  strict  silence,  for  fear 
of  ‘ accidents,’  and  reined  up  our  steeds  under  the  shadow 
of  some  trees  till  we  heard  the  people  pass.  When  their 
voices  had  died  away  in  the  distance,  we  proceeded,  and  re- 
sumed our  conversation,  in  the  course  of  which  he  informed 
me  that  it  was  unsafe  to  meet  people  at  night  in  this  vicinity 
unless  when  well  armed.  I rather  opened  my  eyes  at  this,  and 
moralised  considerably  on  the  benefits  conferred  by  civilisa- 
tion on  Indian  races.  At  Chaloupe’s  toldo  I found  Antonio 
Linares,  brother  of  the  chief,  who  had  brought  with  him  a 
bottle  of  brandy,  over  a glass  of  which  I told  him  my  busi- 
ness, which  he  promised  to  forward,  and  after  a nightcap  he 
left  in  search  of  more  boon-companions.  This  young  fellow 
was  very  well  dressed  in  cloth  ponchos  and  chiripas,  leather 
boots  and  clean  linen,  and  wore  a revolver  in  his  belt.  He 
playfully  informed  me  that  he  had  been  in  search  of  some 
one  he  had  quarrelled  with  all  the  afternoon,  and  would  have 
shot  him  if  he  had  found  him. 

Mrs.  Chaloupe  made  me  up  a luxurious  bed  with  ponchos 
and  my  own  saddle  gear,  and  indeed  all  the  inmates  of  the 
toldo  showed  me  the  greatest  civility. 

At  an  early  hour  in  the  morning  I started  on  my  now 
jaded  horse  in  the  hopes  of  seeing  Linares,  but  on  arriving 
at  his  house  was  informed  that  he  had  already  left  for 
Carmen,  to  have  an  interview  with  the  Commandante,  Sehor 
Murga. 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


301 


Refusing  the  proffered  mate,  I hastened  on,  and  speedily 
overtook  him  taking  a stirrup-cup  at  a friend’s  house.  After 
introducing  myself,  and  joining  in  a social  glass,  I was  glad 
to  avail  myself  of  his  companionship,  as  our  routes  lay  in  the 
same  direction,  and  transact  my  business  on  the  road. 

An  horn’s  ride  brought  us  in  sight  of  Patagones,  at  which 
point  I diverged  from  my  companion  to  the  chacra  or  farm 
of  my  expected  host  Don  Pablo  Piedra  Buena,  situated  on 
the  river  bank.  Half  an  hour’s  ride  brought  me  to  the 
house,  but  finding  no  one  at  home,  with  the  exception  of  a 
big  bull-dog,  I soon  started  in  search,  and  shortly  came  on 
two  men  occupied  in  ploughing.  After  the  usual  salutations, 
I inquired  for  Don  Pablo,  and  was  very  civilly  answered  that 
he  was  shortly  expected  at  the  farm,  but  that  if  I went 
straight  to  Patagones  I should  probably  meet  him  on  the 
way.  Accordingly,  being  very  desirous  of  some  breakfast,  I 
spurred  my  horse  into  a gallop,  and  rode  towards  the  town. 
Its  aspect,  as  viewed  from  a distance,  although  it  appeared 
rather  irregular,  was  tolerably  imposing  ; the  fort  and  build- 
ings on  the  northern  bank,  which  are  situated  on  a rise, 
showing  out  prominently,  whilst  on  the  southern  shore  the 
cathedral  (unfinished  of  course)  and  English  mission  station 
were  the  most  noticeable  buildings.  After  making  a slight 
detour  through  ignorance  of  the  track,  I arrived  at  the 
immediate  vicinity  of  the  southern  suburb,  which,  like 
all  Spanish  settlements,  new  or  old,  failed  to  bear  a close 
inspection. 

An  extensive  mud-hole,  which  a fall  of  rain  would  probably 
render  impassable,  bordered  the  outskirts,  which,  when 
reached,  were  found  to  be  plentifully  strewn  with  offal,  heaps 
of  brick,  and  other  debris,  making  it  incumbent  carefully  to 
pick  one’s  way  along  the  paths. 

As  I had  heard  that  it  was  possible  the  Commandante 
would  come  over  to  the  south  side  to  arrange  about  a race, 
I visited  a pulperia,  indicated  as  a likely  place  to  learn  his 
whereabouts,  where  I found  Linares  and  his  capitanejo 


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AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


(adjutant)  taking  a glass  of  brandy,  and  was  introduced  by 
them  to  the  proprietor,  Don  Jose  Real,  who  offered  his  ser- 
vices, and  informed  me  that  Commandante  Murga  was 
expected  in  about  half  an  hour.  I accordingly  proceeded  to 
the  mission  station,  where,  having  introduced  myself  to  Dr. 
Humble,  I left  my  now  tired  horse  in  his  quinta,  and  after  a 
short  rest,  returned  to  Jose  Real’s,  and  found  the  Comman- 
dante Murga,  to  whom  I presented  the  letter  from  Casimiro 
and  my  own  letter  of  introduction. 

At  first  sight  I was  not  prepossessed  in  favour  of  Senor 
Murga  ; he  was  about  the  middle  height,  dressed  in  Garibaldi 
shirt,  uniform  trousers  and  boots,  and  casquette  with  the 
lace  bands  denoting  the  rank  of  colonel.  He  disposed  of  my 
business  by  saying  that  he  would  attend  to  it  ‘ maiiana,’ 
to-morrow,  which  is  the  answer  to  everything  in  the  pro- 
vinces of  La  Plata,  and  evidently  dismissing  the  subject  from 
his  mind,  resumed  an  argument  with  Don  Jose  about  a race- 
horse. 

This  Colonal  Murga  is  addicted  to  field-sports  of  every 
description,  is  a good  rider,  in  fact  a perfect  gaucho,  and 
rarely  misses  a cockfight  on  Sunday  after  mass. 

Somewhat  disgusted  with  my  reception,  I proceeded  to  the 
boatman’s  house  with  the  intention  of  crossing  the  river  to 
the  north  side,  and  knocking  at  the  door  asked  in  Spanish 
for  Solomon.  It  was  opened  by  a well-dressed  woman,  and 
inside  I perceived  a broad-shouldered,  well-built  man  at  his 
breakfast.  I was  about  to  retire  with  apologies,  when  he 
recognised  me  for  an  Englishman,  and  guessing  who  I was, 
immediately  dragged  me  in  and  seated  me  at  the  table, 
whilst  the  good  wife  cut  slices  of  bread  and  butter  and  brewed 
more  tea.  I was  considerably  hungry,  as  the  Americans  say, 
and  enjoyed  the  bread  and  butter  and  tea  as  I never  enjoyed 
a meal  anywhere  else.  The  kind,  honest  welcome  of  this 
Welsh  family  will  always  remain  as  a pleasant  remembrance 
to  me  of  Patagones. 

Leaving  the  house  with  Solomon,  we  met  Don  Pablo,  who 


GEYLUM  TO  PAT  AGONES. 


303 


was  equally  hearty  in  his  welcome,  and  we  proceeded  across 
in  his  company  to  the  northern  shore,  where  my  friend  placed 
his  house  at  my  disposal,  and  I took  up  my  quarters  with 
him  ; and  after  the  necessary  ablutions,  and  the  reduction  of 
a twelvemonth’s  growth  of  hair  to  a decent  length,  got  into  a 
new  suit  of  clothes  which  were  brought  from  Sehor  Aguirre’s 
store,  and  felt  that  I was  a civilised  Cristiano  once  more. 

That  afternoon  I was  introduced  by  Don  Pablo  to  several  of 
his  relations,  who  were  all  most  kind  and  amiable,  and  their 
agreeable  society  dispelled  the  thoughts  which  I had  enter- 
tained of  returning  to  the  Indians  ; instead  of  which  I now 
determined  to  send  Mena  and  Nacho  out  with  the  answers  to 
the  letters  and  some  stores,  and  wait  in  Patagones  until  the 
arrival  of  the  rest,  employing  the  interval  in  reconnoitring  the 
place  and  studying  its  chances  in  the  future. 


CHAPTER  IX. 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS 


Patagones,  or  Carmen  Old  Town  — The  Fort  and  Buildings  — The 
Southern  Town — The  English  Mission — Elements  of  the  Population 
— The  Negroes  — The  Convicts  — Lawless  State  of  Society  — The 
Cemetery — Early  History  of  the  Colony — A Successful  Stratagem — 
Villarino’s  Ascent  of  the  River — Expedition  of  Rosas — The  Island  of 
Choelechel — La  Guardia  Chica — Estancia  of  Messrs.  Kincaid — An- 
cient Indian  Graves — Flint  Weapons — The  Shepherd  and  Pumas — - 
Estancia  San  Andre  — The  Indians  and  the  Colonists  — Calficura’s 
Raid — Indian  Method  of  Attack — The  Tame  Indians — View  of  the 
Valley — Trade  of  Patagones — Fertility  of  the  Soil — Rio  Negro  Wine 
— The  Sportsman — Advice  to  Emigrants — Interview  with  Colonel 
Murga — The  Government  Grants  to  Chiefs — Casimiro  again — The 
Tehuelches  in  Town — Farewell — The  Welsh  Utopia — Social  Life  at 
Patagones — The  Steamer  at  Last — Aground — The  Pilot — Pat  Sweeny 
— Adieu  to  Patagonia. 

S it  did  not  at  the  time  occur  to  me  that  the  rising  settle- 


ments of  the  Rio  Negro  could  have  escaped  being  fully 
described  already,  I must  candidly  confess  that  the  duty  of 
keeping  a diary  was  neglected  during  my  stay ; and  recollec- 
tions alone  have  furnished  the  materials  for  what  has  been 
peremptorily  urged  on  me  as  a necessary  supplement  to  my 
travels — a description  of  Patagones.  This  name,  which  seems 
intended  to  designate  the  future  capital  of  Patagonia,  has 
completely  usurped  the  place  of  the  original  title  El  Carmen, 
conferred  on  this  settlement  in  honour  of  Nuestra  Senora 
del  Carmen,  under  whose  patronage  it  was  placed. 

The  modern  town,  situated  on  a bend  of  the  Rio  Negro, 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


305 


about  eighteen  miles  from  the  sea,  consists  of  two  parts  sepa- 
rated by  the  river,  here  about  450  yards  wide  : the  older  and 
most  important  on  the  northern  bank,  where  the  authorities 
and  principal  people  reside,  and  a new  suburb  on  the  southern 
bank,  known  as  El  Merced,  which,  though  of  recent  growth, 
threatens  to  eventually  rival  the  northern  portion.  The  means 
of  communication  between  the  two  is  supplied  by  ferry-boats, 
which  are  procurable  at  almost  all  hours. 

On  the  northern  beach  a wooden  pier  has  been  erected, 
opposite  his  store,  by  Sehor  Aguirre,  the  grand  capitalist, 
banker,  and  factotum  of  the  place,  to  allow  the  steamer  to 
unload  with  greater  facility.  It  is  probable  that  the  north- 
ern side  will  continue  to  preserve  its  importance  for  some 
time  to  come,  owing  to  the  want  of  equal  facilities  for  land- 
ing goods  on  the  other  side,  where  at  low  tide  an  extensive 
mud-bank  is  exposed,  which  has  to  be  passed  to  reach  the 
shore. 

The  position  selected  for  Carmen  by  the  founder  com- 
bined security  with  easy  access  to  the  river.  The  barranca 
at  this  spot  advances  as  it  were  to  meet  the  river  bend,  and 
leaving  but  a narrow  intervening  space.  A rather  steep  hill 
rises  to  a plateau,  which  again  to  the  north,  or  rear  of  the 
town,  falls  by  a step  to  the  level  of  the  pampa.  The  crest  is 
crowned  by  the  fort,  and  up  the  declivity  climbs  the  town, 
laid  out  with  scrupulous  adherence  to  the  prescribed  pattern, 
the  regularity  of  its  streets  and  cuadros  not  being,  however, 
very  perceptible  to  a stranger,  owing  to  the  formation  of  the 
ground.  Next  to  the  fort,  the  most  prominent  buildings  are 
the  Commandante’s  house,  a pretentious  red  brick  building, 
and  the  old  church  of  Nuestra  Senora  del  Carmen,  an  insig- 
nificant edifice,  both  situated  a little  below  the  crest  of  the 
hill,  and  under  the  wings,  as  it  were,  of  the  fort. 

The  fort  itself,  crowning  the  crest  of  the  hill,  or  barranca, 
is  of  imposing  appearance  when  viewed  at  a distance,  but  a 
closer  inspection  dispels  the  illusion,  and  reveals  its  utter 
uselessness  for  defensive  purposes.  The  walls  are  in  wretched 

20 


306 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


repair,  and  the  whole  edifice  is  so  decayed  that  when  one  of 
the  American  gunboats  stationed  in  the  Rio  de  la  Plata 
visited  the  place  some  four  years  ago,  and  duly  saluted  the 
Argentine  colours,  the  reverberation  of  the  discharge  of  her 
big  gun  shook  down  a portion  of  the  wall  fronting  the  river ! 
The  armament  consists  of  a few  field-pieces  of  small  calibre 
mounted  en  barbette,  and  of  very  little  use,  as  a single  well- 
directed  shell  would  demolish  the  whole  structure  ; but  if 
advantage  were  taken  of  the  position  for  the  construction  of 
a substantial  battery  mounted  with  modern  artillery,  the 
approaches  to  the  town  from  all  sides  could  be  thoroughly 
commanded  and  easily  defended. 

The  Plaza  or  square  lies  immediately  behind  the  fort, 
which  forms  one  side,  and  some  comfortable  houses  are 
situated  in  it,  several  of  which,  however,  were  only  in  course 
of  construction.  The  condition  of  the  streets  is  very  bad, 
especially  those  descending  the  hill  to  the  river-bank ; in 
some  places  the  pedestrian  sinks  ankle-deep  in  sand,  and  in 
others  stumbles  over  rugged  masses  of  sandstone.  The 
pleasantest  part  of  the  town  is  the  street  running  from  the 
pier  and  store  inland  round  the  base  of  the  hill : here  a con- 
siderable track  of  lowland,  stretching  from  the  rear  of  the 
houses  on  the  eastern  side  to  the  river,  is  laid  out  in  gardens, 
or  quintas,  full  of  all  kinds  of  fruit  trees,  backed  by  a row 
of  tall  poplars  fringing  the  waterside. 

One  of  these  houses  was  the  hospitable  abode  of  my 
esteemed  friend  Don  Pablo  Piedra  Buena.  It  was  a long 
low  house,  built  of  sun-dried  bricks  and  whitewashed.  We 
occupied  one  end,  consisting  of  three  rooms,  the  next  part 
being  occupied  by  Don  Ramirez,  captain  of  the  steam  trans- 
port Choelechel  (at  anchor  within  hail,  off  the  Quinta),  and 
his  wife.  The  remainder  was  tenanted  by  Don  Domingo,  an 
Italian,  as  a restaurant  and  hotel.  Besides  Don  Domingo’s 
hostelry,  the  town  boasted  another  hotel,  the  property  of 
Senor  Aguirre,  situated  close  to  his  store  and  pier,  a fine 
well-built  stone  house,  the  only  one  of  that  material  I ob- 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


307 


served  in  Patagones,  almost  all  the  other  edifices  being  of 
brick,  except  in  the  Negro  quarter  of  the  town,  where  they 
were  simple  adobe  houses.  Whatever  their  material,  many 
of  the  buildings  in  all  parts  of  the  town  were,  like  the  fort, 
in  a most  tumbledown  condition,  and  a freer  use  of  white- 
wash would,  if  the  inhabitants  only  knew  it,  cover  a multitude 
of  sins,  both  against  external  decency  and  internal  cleanli- 
ness. 

On  the  southern  shore  a considerable  track  of  lowland  ex- 
tends from  the  river,  and  is  liable  to  he  overflowed  at  high 
spring  tides.  This  is  devoted  to  the  cultivation  of  wheat, 
ditches  being  cut  to  afford  imperfect  drainage  ; across  these 
flats,  a causeway — the  construction  of  which  is  chiefly  due  to 
the  exertions  of  my  friend  the  Welsh  boatman  Solomon — 
leads  to  the  new  town  of  El  Merced,  built  on  the  higher 
ground,  beyond  the  reach  of  floods.  This,  too,  is  laid  out 
on  the  universal  plan,  and  judging  from  the  piles  of  bricks 
and  the  numerous  sites  marked  out  for  future  houses,  is 
rapidly  growing  in  size  and  importance.  The  roads,  how- 
ever, were  at  the  time  of  my  visit  as  execrable  as  on  the 
north  side,  and  the  outskirts  were  offensive  with  offal  and 
rubbish,  while  the  pantano  or  mud-hole  seemed  to  present 
an  impassable  barrier  to  friend  or  foe.  The  most  noticeable 
buildings  were — first,  the  new  Church  of  Seiiora  del  Merced, 
in  the  Plaza,  which,  with  its  two  towers,  quite  threw  into 
the  shade  its  elder  rival  del  Carmen,  on  the  northern  side ; 
and  next  the  English  Mission  Station,  a considerable  build- 
ing occupying  two  sides  of  a square,  one  wing  containing 
the  room  used  as  a chapel,  whilst  the  other  constituted  the 
residence  and  dispensary  of  the  missionary,  Rev.  Dr.  Humble. 
This  gentleman,  whose  hospitality  I frequently  enjoyed,  com- 
bined in  his  own  person  the  functions  of  doctor  and  clergy- 
man. As  regards  the  mission,  the  converts  did  not  appear 
to  be  numerous  ; indeed  an  Indian  girl,  who  acted  as  servant 
and  nurse,  seemed  to  be  the  only  specimen.  The  whole 
establishment  was  scrupulously  neat  and  clean,  and  afforded 


308 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


an  agreeable  contrast  to  the  surrounding  buildings.  In  front 
a considerable  track  of  ground  extended  to  the  river  bank, 
part  of  ^vhich  constituted  a pleasant  garden,  or  quinta,  the 
remainder  being  used  for  grazing  the  horses  of  the  establish- 
ment, whilst  a ditch  cut  at  the  lower  end  afforded  a harbour 
for  the  medical  missionary’s  boat. 

Dr.  Humble  formerly  had  a school  for  children,  but  it  was 
given  up,  I believe,  on  account  of  the  opposition  raised  by 
the  Padre.  The  church  was  generally  pretty  full  on  Sun- 
days, when  the  British  flag  is  hoisted  to  denote  the  hour  of 
prayer  ; and  as  half  the  service  was  conducted  in  Spanish,  a 
good  sprinkling  of  the  native  inhabitants  was  generally  pre- 
sent— some  perhaps  with  a view  to  obtain  advice  from  the 
pastor  in  his  medical  capacity,  in  which  his  skill  and  kind- 
ness made  him  deservedly  popular. 

According  to  Sir  Woodbine  Parish,  the  population  of  Pata- 
gones  in  1882  amounted  to  no  more  than  800  : although  no 
statistical  means  of  accurate  information  were  at  my  dis- 
posal, I should  be  inclined  to  estimate  the  present  number 
of  inhabitants  at  not  less  than  2,000,  and  they  may  exceed 
that  number. 

They  are  divided  into  four  very  distinctly-defined  classes  : 
— 1st,  The  descendants  of  the  original  and  early  Spanish 
settlers  ; 2ndly,  The  more  recently  foreign  immigrants ; 
3rdly,  The  negroes ; and  4thly,  The  convicts  sent  hither 
from  the  Argentine  Republic.  The  descendants  of  the  ori- 
ginal settlers,  who  for  some  unknown  reason  are  styled  by 
their  townsmen  ‘ Malagatos,’  both  in  name  and  character 
manifest  their  unmixed  descent  from  the  sturdy  Gallegos, 
or  settlers  from  Galicia.  Closely  united  by  intermarriage, 
they  form,  as  it  were,  one  family,  almost  every  member  of 
which  is  either  a Crespo  or  a Real.  Although  hitherto 
jealously  exclusive  as  regards  any  admixture  of  their  ‘ sangre 
azul  ’ by  alliance  with  the  foreigners  — except  perhaps 
Englishmen — the  men  are  remarkable  for  their  hospitable 
kindness  and  courtesy,  whilst  the  ladies  would  vie  with 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


309 


those  of  any  part  of  Old  Spain  or  the  Argentine  provinces  in 
grace  of  manners  or  beauty.  One  noticeable  feature  of  their 
character  was  that  both  men  and  women  manifested  a far 
more  punctilious  respect  for  religion  than  I had  ever  observed 
in  other  Catholic  countries.  Every  one  made  it  a point  of 
being  present  at  mass  whenever  it  was  celebrated.  I was 
among  the  guests  when  Don  Benito  Crespo  was  entertaining 
a party  at  dinner,  given  to  celebrate  his  daughter’s  birthday, 
which  happened  to  fall  during  the  period  of  the  novena  in 
honour  of  Santa  Rosa,  and  when  the  bell  sounded  for  vespers 
everybody  rose  from  table  and  hurried  off  to  the  church. 

The  second  part  of  the  population — the  foreigners — pre- 
sent a motley  group  of  people  of  all  nations,  but  the  majority 
are  Italians  and  Basque  Spaniards.  There  are  a few  French, 
English,  Welsh,  Swiss,  and  Germans. 

The  negroes  are  the  descendants  of  an  importation  of 
slaves,  introduced  when  the  slave  trade  was  legal,  by  the 
Governor,  a Frenchman  named  Yiba,  Casimiro’s  patron,  who 
appears  to  have  entertained  an  idea  of  employing  them  to 
cultivate  the  public  lands.  They  all  live  together  in  one 
quarter  of  the  town — excepting,  of  course,  those  who  go  out 
as  servants — and  keep  up  many  old  traditions  and  customs. 
They  are  called  by  the  Gauchos  ‘ Blandequis,’  which  may  be 
a corruption  of  Mandingo,  and  are  a fine  hard-working  race, 
whose  industrious  habits  and  general  character  differ  widely 
from  the  debased  type  of  the  negroes  in  the  Brazils.  Their 
exact  numbers  I am  ignorant  of,  but  was  informed  that  they 
were  once  very  much  more  numerous,  their  rapid  decrease 
being  caused  by  their  being  drawn  as  soldiers,  and  the 
ravages  of  the  universal  scourge  of  smallpox. 

Lastly  comes  the  convict  element.  Carmen  at  an  early 
period  of  its  history,  was  made  a ‘ presidio,’  or  frontier  penal 
settlement,  in  this  respect  resembling  Punta  Arenas  ; but  the 
strict  discipline  of  the  Chilian  colony  is  altogether  wanting 
in  Patagones.  There  is  a constant  importation  to  the  latter 
place  of  deserters  from  the  army,  robbers,  and  felons  of 


310 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


every  description,  sent  down  from  Buenos  Ayres.  These 
men  are,  on  their  arrival,  either  enlisted  as  soldiers,  or 
turned  loose  on  society,  and  allowed  to  work  where  and  how 
they  please,  or  otherwise  obtain  a livelihood.  They  cannot, 
it  is  true,  escape,  as  there  is  no  chance  of  getting  away  by 
sea,  and  the  almost  certain  danger  of  death  or  captivity 
amongst  the  Pampa  Indians  is  a sufficient  safeguard  against 
then-  betaking  themselves  to  the  interior  ; hut  beyond  this 
there  is  no  restraint  exercised.  Horse- stealing  is,  in  the 
event  of  any  animal  being  left  unwatched,  a moral  certainty, 
and  robberies  of  all  kinds  are  frequent,  and  go  almost  un- 
punished ; while  murder,  in  the  rare  cases  in  which  the 
criminals  are  detected,  simply  involves  being  sent  hack  to 
Buenos  Ayres  for  a trial,  which  results  in  a sentence  of 
transportation  hack  to  the  Bio  Negro.  One  man  named 
Buiz  was  pointed  out  as  having  been  four  times  back- 
ward and  forward  to  and  from  Buenos  Ayres  for  murders 
committed : this  man  openly  boasted  that  whenever  he 
wanted  a trip  he  had  to  kill  a man.  Another  man,  who  had 
robbed  the  Bishop  of  Buenos  Ayres  of  a jewelled  clock,  by 
presentation  of  a forged  order,  filled  the  position  of  billiard 
marker  at  the  hotel,  and  was  looked  on  as  rather  a clever 
fellow.  The  Commandante’s  orderly  was  also  a man  sent 
down  for  homicide.  The  state  of  society  when  these  ruffians 
— eveiy  one  of  whom  carries  a knife,  which  is  used  on  the 
slightest  occasion — are  allowed  thus  to  remain  loose,  may  be 
better  imagined  than  described. 

My  friend  Don  Pablo  was  attacked  one  evening  close  to 
his  house,  hut  fortunately  escaped  unhurt.  Murder  is  of 
weekly  occurrence,  and  it  is  necessary  for  eveiy  one  to  cany 
some  weapon  of  self-defence,  while  few  people  think  of  leav- 
ing the  town  without  a revolver. 

In  the  utter  absence  of  legal  protection,  a project  was 
mooted  among  some  of  the  foreigners  to  establish  a vigilance 
committee  on  the  simple  principle  of  mutual  protection  and 
agreement  to  avenge  any  injury  to  one  of  the  society.  As 


TEE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


311 


Sir  Lucius  consoled  his  friend  by  the  remark  that  there  is 
‘ snug  lying  in  the  abbey,’  the  unprotected  inhabitants  of 
Patagones  can  pride  themselves  on  their  possessing  an  ex- 
cellent new  cemetery,  situated  to  the  north,  about  half  a 
mile  outside  the  town,  which  is  surrounded  by  a brick  wall, 
with  iron  gates,  and  kept  in  a neat  and  orderly  condition.  A 
little  east  of  it,  nearer  the  town,  lies  the  old  cemetery, 
the  neglected  state  of  which,  when  I visited  it,  offered  a 
melancholy  contrast : the  mud  wall  was  breached  in  many 
places ; coffins  appeared  protruding  from  the  sand,  and  in 
some  cases  were  actually  uncovered ; skulls  and  bones  lay 
exposed  to  view ; and,  as  a climax,  a cat  jumped  out  of  one 
coffin  in  which  she  had  taken  up  her  abode.  I was  extremely 
surprised  at  such  want  of  respect  being  shown  by  the  resi- 
dents to  the  bones  of  their  departed  ancestors,  and  remarked 
on  it  to  my  companion,  who  shrugged  his  shoulders  and 
muttered  something  which  sounded  like  the  inevitable 
‘ Manana.’ 

The  most  interesting  relics  of  the  first  founders  of  the 
colony  are  a number  of  caves,  or  dwellings,  excavated  in  the 
sandstone  cliff,  four  miles  below  the  town  ; they  contain 
three  or  four  chambers,  leading  into  each  other,  and  from 
eight  to  ten  feet  square.  In  one  I remarked  a sort  of  trough, 
hollowed  out  in  the  sandstone,  which  more  resembled  a 
manger  than  anything  else.  Tradition  narrates  that  these 
were  used  as  dwellings  by  the  first  settlers,  or  perhaps  as 
hiding-places  for  themselves,  or  for  their  cattle,  in  times  of 
war  with  the  Indians. 

Under  the  Spanish  dominion  the  colony  made  but  slow 
progress,  notwithstanding  the  abandonment  of  all  other 
attempted  settlements  on  the  Patagonian  coast,  which  left 
the  entire  advantages  to  be  derived  from  the  valuable  whale 
and  seal  fisheries  in  the  hands  of  the  people  of  Carmen ; 
their  inertness  allowed  this  mine  of  wealth  to  remain  un- 
worked, and  it  fell  into  the  hands  of  English  and  American 
fishermen,  who  worked  them  till  a recent  period.  The 


312 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


Argentine  Government  has  asserted  its  claim,  and  granted 
a lease  of  the  fisheries  to  Don  Luiz  Buena,  with  authority 
to  warn  off  all  intruders  ; hut  the  fisheries  do  not,  I fear, 
produce  the  profit  deserved  by  his  energy.  The  Carmen 
settlers  alternately  traded  with,  and  were  plundered  by,  the 
Indians,  preferring  the  profits  of  this  doubtful  commerce 
to  the  dangerous,  though  profitable,  sealing  and  whaling. 
That  the  Indians’  hostility  had  something  to  do  with  the 
concentration  of  the  Spanish  forces  at  the  Rio  Negro  appears 
from  a fact  which  has  been  studiously  omitted  from  the 
Spanish  records.  The  Indians  preserve  an  accurate  tradition 
to  the  effect  that  the  first  colonists  at  Port  Desire  aroused 
the  anger  of  the  natives,  who  made  a successful  attack ; the 
colonists  retreated  into  the  church,  where  every  soul  perished 
at  the  hands  of  the  natives.  The  buildings  and  fruit-trees 
still  existing  are  the  only  monuments  of  the  destruction  of 
this  colony. 

From  the  time  that  the  South  American  colonies  asserted 
their  independence,  Patagones  shared  in  the  consequent 
increase  of  population  and  development  of  trade,  as  already 
pointed  out.  Since  Sir  W.  Parish  wrote,  the  population  has 
largely  increased  and  the  value  of  property  risen ; and  although 
the  ‘ old  inhabitants  ’ complained  to  me  of  the  want  of  progress, 
the  growing  demand  and  price  given  for  land  and  houses  at 
that  time,  compared  with  former  years,  proved  the  contrary. 
One  item  of  its  history  must  not  be  omitted.  During  the  war 
between  the  Brazilians  and  the  Argentine  Confederation,  the 
inhabitants  of  Patagones  distinguished  themselves  by  defeat- 
ing and  capturing  a Brazilian  expedition  sent  to  endeavour 
to  reduce  the  place.  The  story  was  told  me  as  follows.  A 
strong  force  of  the  Brazilians  landed  near  the  sea-coast,  and 
marched  overland  towards  Carmen,  halting  about  a league 
north  of  the  town.  The  garrison,  numbering  about  fifty  > 
regulars  and  some  volunteers,  sallied  out,  equipped  with  a 
large  assortment  of  coloured  ponchos.  Taking  up  a position 
behind  a hill  which  concealed  them  from  the  enemy,  who 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


313 


were  ignorant  of  their  real  strength,  the  cunning  men  of 
Carmen  then  displayed  themselves  as  if  for  a reconnaissance, 
and  retreated,  but  only  to  change  their  ponchos  and  reappear 
as  a fresh  detachment ; the  enemy  was  thus  led  by  these 
repeated  feints  and  transformations  to  considerably  multiply 
the  real  numbers  of  the  Argentine  troops,  and  hesitate  to 
attack  so  seemingly  large  a force.  After  nightfall  the 
herbage  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  bivouac  of  the  invading 
army  was  set  on  fire.  Bewildered  by  the  smoke,  the 
Brazilians  retreated,  but  were  encountered  by  other  fires 
in  their  rear,  and,  seeing  themselves  apparently  surrounded 
and  opposed  by  superior  numbers,  their  leader  capitulated. 
The  story  is  substantiated  by  the  existence  of  the  wreck  of  a 
Brazilian  man-of-war,  still  visible  in  the  river. 

The  fertile  valley  of  the  Rio  Negro  must  needs  be  de- 
scribed in  order  to  convey  a proper  idea  of  the  resources  of 
Patagones  as  a colony.  By  far  the  greater  extent  of  this 
valley  is  as  uncultivated  as  when  it  was  first  explored  by 
Don  Basilio  Villarino,  who,  under  the  orders  of  Viedma, 
ascended  the  river  in  order  to  ascertain  its  source,  and  whose 
diary  is  extant  in  the  collection  of  De  Angelis,  a valuable 
abstract  of  it  having  been  given  by  Sir  W.  Parish,  though 
sufficiently  long  ago  in  our  rapid  age  to  be  almost  forgotten. 
He  ascended  with  launches  first  as  far  as  the  Island  of 
Choelechel,  seventy  leagues  from  Carmen,  which  he  recom- 
mended should  be  fortified  as  an  advance  post  against  the 
Indians ; thence,  after  incredible  difficulties,  he  succeeded  in 
reaching  the  foot  of  the  Cordillera,  always  keeping  on  good 
terms  with  the  natives.  Here  he  met  -with  the  Araucanians 
(termed  by  me  Manzaneros),  and  was  in  great  hopes  of 
reaching  Valdivia  through  their  aid,  as  they  showed  them- 
selves friendly  disposed ; when,  unfortunately,  the  Indians 
fell  out  amongst  themselves,  one  of  the  chiefs  being  killed  in 
the  melee.  The  chief  who  caused  this  man’s  death  came 
with  his  people  to  the  Spaniards  to  implore  their  assistance, 
which  was  promised.  This  led  to  the  whole  of  the  remaining 


314 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


Indians  forming  a league  and  declaring  war  against  the 
Spaniards,  whose  name  up  to  the  present  they  detest.  Being 
obliged  to  abandon  his  intention  of  reaching  Valdivia, 
Vallarino  reluctantly  determined  to  return,  and  accordingly 
after  being  supplied  by  his  allies  with  a store  of  apples  and 
pihones,  descended  the  river  and  returned  to  Carmen. 

From  the  description  of  this  journey,  together  with  the 
mention  of  the  supplies  of  apples  and  pihones  obtained  at 
the  farthest  point  reached,  I am  inclined  to  assume  that  this 
point  was  near,  if  not  identical  with,  the  place  where  we 
passed  the  Limay  on  our  journey  to  Las  Manzanas,  a mile 
or  two  below  the  rapids  where  Mr.  Cox  was  wrecked. 

Villarino  states  that  he  entered  in  his  small  boat  a channel 
where  the  river  flowed  over  rounded  stones  to  the  S.W. 
Now  the  point  where  SB-.  Cox’s  boat  was  lost  was  a rapid  to 
all  appearance  impassable  for  a boat : however,  it  is  possible 
that  Vallarino  employed  Indians  on  horseback  to  track  his 
boat,  and  that  the  state  of  the  river  was  more  favourable  for 
navigation  at  the  period  of  his  visit. 

The  mention  of  the  friendly  Indians  who  accompanied  him 
on  his  return  and  settled  under  the  protection  of  the 
Spaniards,  suggests  the  idea  that  these  may  have  been  the 
ancestors  of  Los  Mansos  or  the  Tame  Indians,  at  present  in 
the  service  of  the  Government.  Casimiro  had  a legend  about 
Indians  friendly  to  the  first  Spanish  settlers,  who  were  sub- 
sequently ill-treated  by  them,  and  I believe  revolted.  Luiz 
Aguirre  also  asserted  that  his  father  was  one  of  the  original 
chiefs  of  the  Rio  Negro,  who  for  a long  time  was  friendly  to 
the  Spaniards,  but  at  length,  a revolt  taking  place,  was  im- 
prisoned and  kept  in  Carmen  as  a hostage,  where  he  died. 
In  the  year  1832,  when  Rosas,  for  the  protection  of  the 
southern  frontier,  made  his  great  attack  on  the  Indians,  and 
driving  them  back  to  the  neighbourhood  of  the  Cordillera, 
forced  them  to  submit  to  his  terms,  he  established  a military 
post  at  Choelechel,  as  advised  by  Villarino.  His  scheme 
was.  I believe,  to  extend  from  this  point  a chain  of  forts  as 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


315 


far  as  Mendoza,  thus  keeping  the  Salinas  Indians  quite  inside 
the  chain,  and  driving  the  Araucanos  up  to  then’  native 
valleys  of  the  Cordillera. 

This  plan  was  never  carried  out,  and  the  post,  to  which  the 
name  Isla  de  Rosas  had  been  given,  was  abandoned.  Rosas 
was,  notwithstanding  his  having  beaten  the  Indians  back, 
very  popular  amongst  them,  and  on  his  overthrow  a relation 
of  his,  Don  Pedro  Rosas,  took  refuge  in  the  Salinas  with 
his  artillery  and  battalion.  Orkeke  and  several  friends  of 
mine  often  inquired  after  Rosas,  saying  that  ‘ he  was  a good 
man,’  &c. 

The  next  expedition  up  the  river  occurred  only  a year 
previous  to  my  arrival  in  the  Rio  Negro,  when  the  steamer 
Choelechel  ascended  as  far  as  the  island,  accompanied  by 
a land  force  under  the  Commandante  Murga.  Indians 
were  found  occupying  the  island,  and  a European  was 
reported  as  resident  among  them,  and  as  exercising  the 
authority  of  chief.  Although  he  refused  to  hold  any  com- 
munication with  the  Argentine  commander,  it  is  most  pro- 
bable that  this  was  the  famous  Frenchman  Aurelie  I.,  who 
was  said  to  have  obtained  a supply  of  arms  landed  in  the 
Rio  Negro,  and  brought  up  to  this  island.  The  expedition 
did  not  think  fit  to  disturb  the  Indians,  and  returned  with 
little  to  show  as  the  result  of  their  journey. 

It  was  in  contemplation  to  despatch  another  expedition, 
but  I have  as  yet  heard  no  news  of  its  progress  from  my 
Patagones  correspondents,  and  it  is  probably  postponed  till 
‘ Manana.’ 

The  large  island  of  Choelechel,  which  I know  only  by 
description,  never  having  visited  it,  appears  to  be  not  only 
an  important  station  in  a military  point  of  view,  but  also 
admirably  adapted  for  cultivation  ; there  are,  however,  some 
reasons  against  its  occupation  for  that  purpose  : the  first  is 
the  undoubted  hostility  of  the  Indians  to  any  enterprise 
tending  to  occupy  what  they  consider  their  country ; 
secondly,  its  distance  from  Carmen  or  Patagones  as  a base 


316 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


of  supply  for  bringing  up  implements  and  importing  pro- 
duce, supposing  the  first  difficulties  overcome.  A railroad 
or  tramway  might  I am  sure  be  constructed  at  little  cost  to 
run  down  the  whole  valley  of  the  river,  or  steam  launches 
of  good  power,  fitted  to  burn  wood,  would  furnish  an 
effectual  means  of  communication.  The  present  Govern- 
ment steamer  Choelechel  both  draws  too  much  water  and 
is  of  too  small  power  to  render  material  assistance  in  the  way 
of  opening  up  the  river.  The  Capitano  Major  Ramirez 
pointed  out  these  defects  to  his  Government  previous  to  her 
being  brought  to  the  Rio  Negro,  hut  his  opinion  was  over- 
ruled. 

Foyel  and  a cacique  named  Limaron,  who  claims  terri- 
torial rights  over  the  island,  had  a scheme  for  cultivating 
Choelechel  and  other  advantageous  spots,  importing  for  the 
purpose  Yaldivian  settlers  used  to  the  labour  from  the  other 
side  of  the  Cordillera,  and  obtaining  their  supplies  and  im- 
plements from  Carmen. 

The  present  further  limit  of  settlement  in  the  valley  is  the 
advanced  military  post  called  La  Guardia  Chica,  situated 
about  seven  leagues  above  the  second  Guardia,  and  about 
twenty-five  leagues  from  Carmen.  It  has  not,  I believe,, 
been  in  existence  many  years,  and  was  two  years  ago  the 
scene  of  an  emeute  amongst  the  garrison,  which  was  graphi- 
cally described  to  me  at  our  watchfire  in  Las  Manzanas  by 
Rouque  Pinto,  who  had  evidently  assisted,  if  not  as  an  actor, 
at  least  as  a spectator  at  the  scene.  The  troops,  who  were 
mostly  foreigners,  according  to  his  account,  suddenly  rose, 
shot  or  stabbed  the  officer  in  command,  and  then  their 
lieutenant,  who  was  killed  whilst  endeavouring  to  escape  by 
swimming  the  river.  The  mutineers  then  sacked  the  place, 
getting  of  course  intoxicated  on  the  contents  of  the  grog- 
shops, and  remained  in  possession  for  a day  or  two,  when 
a party  headed  by  a man  named  Bonifaccio,  a Government 
agent  for  treating  with  the  Indians,  rode  in  and  took  the 
ringleaders,  who  were,  I believe,  summarily  shot.  I tell  the 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


317 


story  as  it  was  told  to  me,  and  can  only  vouch  for  the  truth 
of  the  fact  that  the  officers  were  killed  in  a mutiny,  which 
was  afterwards  suppressed  by  the  determination  and  corn-age 
of  Bonifaceio. 

Woodcutters  frequently  come  up  the  river  thus  far  to  pro- 
cure the  red  willow  timber.  Then-  plan  is  simple  : they  ride 
up  bringing  their  axes,  ropes,  and  provisions,  and  when 
arrived  at  the  scene  of  then-  labours  turn  then-  horses  adrift, 
which  readily  find  their  way  home.  The  men  form  their 
timber  into  a raft,  and  voyage  on  it  safely  down  the  river. 
This,  although  hard  work,  is  a pi-ofitable  occupation  for  men 
skilled  with  the  axe.  Perhaps  at  some  future  period  their 
operations  will  be  extended  farther  west,  and  rafts  of  Arau- 
canian  pine,  apple,  and  other  trees  will  be  floated  down  from 
the  forests  of  the  Cordillera. 

From  the  Guardia  Chica  or  Little  Guardia,  still  keeping 
on  the  north  side,  a wide  flat  plain  extends  to  the  Guardia 
described  in  the  previous  chapter  ; in  this  several  farms  are 
situated,  most  of  them  wheat-raising  establishments.  Nearly 
all  this  land  is  leased  by  Senor  Aguirre  from  the  Govern- 
ment, and  he  has  at  present  a large  number  of  men  engaged 
in  cutting  a channel  or  ditch  for  the  purpose  of  irrigating 
an  extensive  tract  of  land.  The  men  employed  in  this  work 
are  nearly  all  of  them  natives  of  Santiago  del  Estero,  and 
it  is  needless  to  state  that  it  is  a most  expensive  under- 
taking : it  is  only  to  be  hoped  that  Senor  Aguirre  will  find 
his  labour  and  expense  repaid  by  fruitful  crops. 

A few  farms  are  rented  by  Welsh  settlers,  refugees  from 
the  Chupat,  who  wisely  have  preferred  the  valley  of  the  Kio 
Negro  to  that  luckless  settlement. 

A little  above  the  Guardia  is  situated  the  estancia  of 
Messrs.  Kincaid,  of  which  we  caught  a glimpse  on  our  first 
arrival  at  civilisation.  I had  the  pleasure  of  staying  some 
days  at  this  farm,  where  a good  deal  of  land  had  been 
brought  under  cultivation,  and  flocks  of  sheep  might  be  seen 
grazing  on  the  rich  plain. 


318 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


The  estancia,  from  its  situation  in  what  is  termed  a rincon 
or  corner,  namely,  a peninsula  nearly  surrounded  by  a bend 
of  the  river,  possessed  great  advantages,  and  as  it  is  one  of 
the  most  convenient  places  for  passing  cattle  to  the  south 
side,  the  owner,  who  keeps  a boat  on  the  river,  was  enabled 
to  do  a profitable  business  with  the  Indians  when  they 
received  them  rations,  by  assisting  them  in  ferrying  their 
animals  across. 

The  overseer,  under  Mr.  Kincaid,  was  a Scotch  shepherd, 
whose  gudewife  superintended  the  menage;  the  house  was 
a substantial  edifice,  built  mainly  by  Messrs.  Kincaid,  the 
beams  being  taken  from  willow  trees  felled  in  the  rincon. 
Up  to  the  time  of  my  visit  these  gentlemen  had  been  working 
against  fortune,  neither  of  the  yields  of  grain  in  the  two 
previous  years  of  their  occupation  having  been  even  a good 
average. 

Close  to  this  estancia  a number  of  ancient  Indian  burial- 
grounds  exist,  where,  besides  skulls  and  bones,  numerous 
flint  arrowheads  maybe  found,  some  of  which,  in  my  posses- 
sion, have  been  exhibited  to  the  learned  members  of  the 
Anthropological  Institute,  and  found  to  present  the  peculiar 
Indian  type.  Besides  flint  arrowheads,  pestles  and  mor- 
tars, fashioned  out  of  a porous  stone,  are  also  to  he  found. 
These  articles  probably  belonged  to  an  old  race  of  Indians 
who  inhabited  the  Rio  Negro  previous  to  the  advent  of 
Spaniards  and  horses,  and  the  pestles  and  mortars  were 
probably  used  for  pounding  the  algarroba  bean  into  a paste 
like  that  at  present  manufactured  by  Pampa  Indians  under 
Teneforo  ; indeed,  Luiz  Aguirre  gave  me  to  understand  that 
these  Pampas  were  of  an  original  stock  formerly  inhabiting 
the  valley  of  the  Rio  Negro,  but  I leave  these  conjectures  to 
the  consideration  of  ethnologists  more  skilled  than  myself. 
Near  these  ancient  graves  I renewed  my  acquaintance  with 
the  old  familiar  vizcacha  of  the  plains  of  Buenos  Ayres, 
which  I have  previously  pointed  out  does  not  exist  in 
Patagonia  proper,  viz.,  to  the  south  of  the  Rio  Negro.  Two 


TEE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


319 


other  species  of  armadillo  besides  the  quirquincho  were 
described  as  being  found  in  their  neighbourhood,  but  I was 
not  fortunate  enough  to  meet  with  either  description,  as 
they  were  at  this  season  hybernating.  Puma  have  been 
killed  in  the  neighbourhood  of  one  of  the  sheep  stations. 
The  shepherd  heard  two  outside  the  corral  on  one  occasion, 
and  giving  chase  the  puma  ascended  a small  tree.  The 
shepherd  was  only  lightly  attired,  hut  he  stripped  off  his 
shirt  and  fastened  it  to  a stick  planted  by  the  tree,  which 
unknown  white  object  so  terrified  the  ‘leones ’that  they 
remained  quiet  while  he  fetched  his  gun  and  shot  them  both. 

The  skin  of  an  aguarra  killed  on  the  premises  was  also 
shown  to  me,  but  I had  not  the  good  fortune  to  see  one 
alive.  The  rarity  of  the  animal  causes  the  skins  to  be  highly 
valued,  being  worth  £5  each  in  Carmen. 

From  the  second  Guardia  a short  gallop  past  the  advanced 
barrancas,  near  which  the  river  flows  in  another  bend, 
brings  the  traveller  to  another  wide  plain,  which  to  the 
north  runs  up  into  an  abra  deeply  recessed  in  the  receding 
barranca  : in  this  there  are  several  farms  ; one  of  which, 
six  miles  below  the  Guardia,  belonging  to  Messrs.  Fraser 
and  Grenfell,  is  named  the  Estancia  San  Andre,  and  is  also 
situated  (i.e.,  the  house  and  parts  intended  for  wheat  grow- 
ing) inside  a rincon  or  corner  partitioned  off  by  a good 
whitethorn  or  chanal  fence,  resting  at  each  end  in  the  river. 
The  sheep  and  cattle  graze  during  the  day  outside,  hut  the 
latter  and  the  horses  are  invariably  brought  within  the 
enclosure  at  night  for  fear  of  theft.  This  foresight  of 
enclosing  the  cattle  had  saved  Mr.  Fraser  a considerable 
loss.  A short  time  previous  to  my  visit,  a party  of  marauding 
Indians  rode  along  outside  the  fence,  and  finding  nothing 
but  sheep,  which  travel  too  slowly  to  be  securely  lifted, 
proceeded  to  the  next  estancia,  and  drove  off  the  cattle  and 
horses,  after  stripping  the  shepherd  of  his  clothes,  but  doing 
him  no  bodily  injury. 

When  the  news  reached  Mr.  Fraser,  he  got  some  men 


320 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


together  and  started  in  hot  pursuit ; although  a stern  chase  is 
a long  one,  the  cattle  grew  tired,  and  the  Indians,  probably 
some  of  Calficura’s  people,  abandoned  them,  escaping  with 
the  horses  only. 

I passed  several  days  at  the  Estancia  San  Andre,  spending 
the  greater  part  of  my  time  in  reading,  first  the  papers,  and 
then  all  the  available  books,  and  now  and  then  sauntering 
about  with  a gun  to  shoot  partridges  or  pigeons,  whilst  my 
companions  were  busy,  each  with  his  team  of  oxen  ploughing 
in  the  seed,  or  carting  bricks  down  to  the  new  house  in 
course  of  completion. 

The  house  we  occupied  was  of  adobe,  and  getting  rather 
into  a tumbledown  condition  ; but  the  new  house  was  a sub- 
stantial brick  building,  the  bricks  burnt  by  the  future  occu- 
piers, and  the  walls  run  up  by  some  Italian  masons.  This  new 
house  was  situated  on  the  extremity  of  the  rincon,  or  corner, 
or  where  its  apex  touched  the  river  : in  front  of  it  was  a small 
island,  rapidly  undergoing  conversion  from  its  original  reed- 
covered  state  to  a fertile  garden,  in  which  a good  crop  of 
potatoes  had  already  been  grown  and  fruit  trees  were  being 
planted. 

The  old  house  was  to  be  given  up  to  the  Capataz,  or  head- 
man, who  then  resided  with  his  wife  in  a portion  of  it.  This 
man  was  a native,  named  Medado  ; and  I have  since  heard 
that,  when  pursuing  the  Indians  who  had  invaded  some 
stations  near  Bahia  San  Bias,  he  swam  the  river  unaccom- 
panied, and  rescued  two  captives,  for  which  he  was  made  an 
officer  of  National  Guards.  His  chief  business  consisted  in 
looking  after  the  cattle  and  horses,  and  training  the  race- 
horse, of  which  Mr.  Fraser  was  justly  proud. 

During  my  stay  the  San  Andre  crack  was  entered  against 
a horse  of  Linares’  over  a short  course,  and  won  easily, 
landing  stakes  of  about  eighty  head  of  cattle. 

I noticed,  whilst  at  San  Andre,  a very  beautiful  descrip- 
tion of  small  hawk,  which  appeared  closely  allied  to  our 
merlin,  and  shot  one  specimen. 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


321 


The  San  Andre  people,  like  those  at  Rincon  Barrancas, 
had  been  struggling  against  ill-fortune  for  two  seasons  ; the 
last  season  their  harvest  was  a fair  one,  but  unfortunately 
they  delayed  thrashing-out  for  a long  time,  waiting  for  a 
thrashing  machine  from  England,  which,  when  it  did  arrive, 
would  not  work  properly,  and  made  it  necessary  for  them 
ultimately  to  resort  to  the  native  fashion  of  treading  out 
with  mares  ; bad  weather  ensued,  and  a considerable  portion 
of  the  grain  was  spoiled  : such  are  the  woes  of  Rio  Negro 
farmers,  especially  improving  ones.  During  my  visit  the 
daily  routine  of  tilling,  marking  cattle,  bringing  up  the 
horses,  &c.,  was  carried  on  ; but  we  found  time  to  visit  the 
next  estancia,  owned  by  a Swiss  gentleman  residing  in 
Buenos  Ayres,  and  managed  in  his  absence  by  a Swiss 
countryman,  known  by  the  name  of  Don  Juan.  Here,  as 
sheep  at  the  present  time  hardly  paid  the  cost  of  shearing, 
an  experiment  was  being  made  of  curing  mutton-hams  for 
exportation  to  Buenos  Ayres,  and  a large  number  had  been 
already  cured  and  were  ready  for  shipment ; but  the  result  of 
the  experiment  is  unknown  to  me,  and  the  ingenious  Don 
Juan  has  since  died. 

During  my  stay  at  San  Andre  and  Rincon  Barrancas  I 
picked  up  a good  deal  of  information  regarding  the  relations 
of  the  Indians  with  the  colonists,  which  perhaps  may  not 
be  uninteresting  to  the  reader.  All  the  settlements  and 
guardias  previously  described  are  situated  on  the  north  bank 
of  the  river,  the  south  side  being  almost  entirely,  as  far  as 
this  point,  in  the  hands  of  the  Tame  and  other  Indians. 
The  Indian  parties  who  are  most  feared  are  the  Araucanos, 
under  the  chief  Rouque,  and  the  Pampas  of  Calficura,  who 
has  his  head-quarters  at  the  Salinas  near  Bahia  Blanca,  while 
the  former  ranges  from  the  neighbourhood  of  Choelechel  to 
the  Cordillera.  I should  be  inclined  to  think  that  Rouque  is 
a subordinate  chief  under  Cheoeque,  though  I am  not  certain 
of  the  fact,  as  the  latter  chief,  during  my  visit  to  Las  Manzanas, 
mentioned  Rouque  as  being  with  his  people  in  the  apple  and 

21 


322 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


pine  groves,  gathering  the  autumn  harvest ; but  I subse- 
quently met  some  of  these  Indians  at  the  Guardia  waiting 
for  Rouque’s  ration,  and  recognised  one  as  having  been  pre- 
sent at  our  council  and  subsequent  festivities  in  La  Man- 
zanas.  The  Government  agent  for  Indian  affairs,  Boni- 
faccio,  showed  me  a magnificent  pair  of  stirrups  sent  from 
Buenos  Ayres  as  a present  to  Rouque,  the  policy  of  the 
authorities  being  to  keep  him  and  Cheoeque  from  joining 
Calficura  in  the  threatened  raid  on  the  frontier.  The  reason 
assigned  for  the  declaration  of  war  by  this  latter  chief  was 
the  death — by  which  he  probably  meant  the  imprisonment — 
of  one  of  his  inferior  caciques  ; hut  the  real  reason  probably 
was  that  the  Argentine  Government,  on  account  of  robberies 
committed  by  some  of  his  people,  had  refused  to  renew  his 
ration”  of  animals.  The  outbreak  in  Entre  Rios,  resulting 
from  the  death  of  Urquiza,  was  then  unforeseen,  and  it  was 
intended  to  have  despatched  a large  force,  under  the  com- 
mand of  Sehor  Mitre,  to  reinforce  the  whole  frontier,  and  if 
necessary  crush  Calficura  ; but  the  troubles  caused  by  Xopez 
Jordan  necessitated  the  despatch  of  all  available  forces  at 
once  to  Entre  Rios,  and  the  meditated  scheme  of  rendering 
the  frontier  secure  was  postponed.  Calficura  subsequently 
took  advantage  of  this  by  attacking  the  frontier  in  various 
places,  carrying  off  captives  women  and  children,  besides 
numerous  herds  of  cattle,  winding  up  by  attacking  and  de- 
vastating the  new  settlements  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Bahia 
Blanca,  his  Indians  penetrating  boldly,  almost  without  re- 
sistance, into  the  very  heart  of  the  town,  and  returning  with 
abundance  of  booty.  Patagones  was  not  attacked,  which 
may  partially  be  due  to  the  arrangements  effected  in  Las 
Manzanas,  the  unwillingness  of  the  Tehuelches  to  join,  and 
the  gaining  over  of  Rouque.  The  latter  chief,  however, 
most  probably  played  a double  game,  and  whilst  receiving 
rations  and  gifts  with  one  hand,  allowed  his  people  to  join 
the  raids  and  received  plunder  with  the  other. 

One  reason  for  the  Indians  not  committing  great  raids  on 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


323 


the  Rio  Negro  settlements  is  simply  that  cattle  and  horses 
hardly  exist  in  sufficient  numbers  to  reward  a foray  on  a large 
scale.  Small  parties  sometimes  come  in,  as  in  the  case 
described,  when  the  horses  were  taken  from  the  ‘ China 
Muerte,’  the  estancia  of  Mr.  Fraser’s  neighbour  ; but  these 
are  rather  robberies  than  hostile  invasions — indeed  no  im- 
portant raids  have  occurred  since  the  time  of  Lenquetrou, 
who  united  all  the  Indians  for  the  purpose,  and  swept  the 
valley  in  a raid  which,  it  may  be  remembered,  was  described 
to  me  by  Gravino,  a participator  in  it,  at  Inacayal’s  toldos, 
near  the  Pass  of  the  Rio  Limay.  The  settlers  were  naturally 
anxious  to  know  my  opinion  as  to  the  probable  safety  of  the 
Rio  Negro,  and  I assured  them  that,  from  what  I knew, 
there  was  little  chance  of  a raid,  but  that,  on  the  contrary, 
Bahia  Blanca  was  sure  to  be  attacked,  and  I especially 
warred  one  of  our  countrymen  who  was  on  his  way  to 
Bahia  Blanca  not  to  hazard  himself  by  settling  outside  the 
town  at  the  present  juncture.  Englishmen  are  apt  to  suppose 
that  because  they  possess  good  weapons,  rifles  and  revolvers, 
and  are  able  and  ready  to  use  them,  they  can  resist  an 
Indian  attack  ; but  the  whole  system  of  their  warfare  consists 
in  sudden  surprises.  They  secretly  collect  their  forces,  and 
waiting  at  a safe  distance  during  the  night,  come  in  at  the 
early  dawn  ; and  perhaps  the  unsuspicious  settler,  going  to 
the  corral  or  looking  for  his  horses,  observes  in  the  distance 
what  appears  to  be  a troop  of  horses,  driven,  according  to 
custom,  by  one  or  two  mounted  men ; these  approach  un- 
challenged, but  in  a second  every  horse  displays  an  armed 
rider,  shouting  his  war-cry.  They  then  spread  out,  as  if  to 
encircle  the  game,  thus  presenting  no  front  to  the  rifles  of 
their  opponents,  and  dash  down  lance  in  hand ; and  whilst 
some  secure  the  animals,  others  set  fire  to  the  dwellings  and 
carry  off  the  women — if  there  are  any — captives.  In  some 
cases  they  kill  the  men,  but  generally  only  when  much 
resistance  is  offered. 

Although  their  chief  object  in  warfare  is  to  carry  off  cattle 


324 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


and  captives,  the  Indians  will  at  all  times  fight  desperately, 
regardless  of  odds,  and  show  little  or  no  fear  of  death ; and 
the  survivors  will  never  leave  their  wounded  or  killed  on  the 
field.  The  Indians  in  the  sendee  of  the  Government,  mus- 
tering about  fifty  lances,  and  residing  chiefly  on  the  south 
side,  are  commanded  by  a man  named  Linares,  previously 
mentioned  as  living  at  San  Xaviel ; he  receives  the  pay  and 
rations  of  an  officer  in  the  army,  of  what  rank  I do  not 
know,  and  all  his  men  regularly  receive  pay  and  rations. 
These  are  supposed  to  act  as  gendarmerie  ; but  although 
Linares  and  his  four  brothers  are  probably  to  be  depended 
on,  I doubt  very  much  if  the  rank  and  file  could  be  trusted 
to  remain  true  to  their  colours  in  the  event  of  a united  raid 
taking  place,  such  as  that  organised  by  Lenquetrou. 

They  have  all  acquired,  by  their  lengthened  residence  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  bad  characters,  a rowdy,  swaggering 
disposition  not  generally,  according  to  my  experience,  com- 
mon amongst  uncivilised  Indians  ; and  frequent  losses  of 
cattle  occur  to  people  settled  on  the  south  6ide,  no  doubt 
attributable  to  these  dubious  allies  and  defenders. 

Between  San  Andre  and  Carmen  the  winding  course  of 
the  river  twice  approaches  and  recedes  from  the  barranca, 
forming  two  successive  wide  alluvial  plains,  partly  settled 
and  partly  in  natural  pasture,  in  one  of  which  a mill  turned 
by  water-power  was  at  this  time  in  course  of  erection,  the 
existing  corn-mills  being  cumbrous,  old-fashioned  affairs 
worked  by  horses. 

The  barranca  then  abuts  on  the  river,  except  in  one  place, 
where  there  is  a farm  and  wTharf  used  for  loading  salt, 
forming  a cliff  close  to  the  river  bank  as  far  as  Carmen. 
Above  this  farm  and  wharf  an  old  fort,  apparently  un- 
tenanted, and  armed  with  one  gun,  is  situated ; and  away  to 
the  north-east,  in  an  indentation  in  the  plain,  lies  a large 
salina  from  which  the  salt  is  extracted. 

From  the  immediate  neighbourhood  of  this  fort  a fine 
view  of  the  valley  below  presented  itself : right  in  front,  or 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


325 


nearly  due  south,  on  the  other  side  of  the  river,  lay  San 
Xaviel,  partially  shrouded  by  trees  ; scattered  farms  occurred 
to  the  west  of  this,  and  along  the  bank  as  far  as  the  south 
side  of  the  town.  In  the  river  several  delightful-looking 
cultivated  islands  were  to  be  seen,  the  most  noticeable  form- 
ing the  vineyard  of  Don  Benito  Crespo.  Beyond  the  town, 
to  the  south-east,  the  eye  ranged  over  unbroken  plains,  with 
dots  here  and  there  marking  sheep  stations  or  small  farms. 
Of  the  south  side  little  has  been  said  : near  the  town  there 
are  many  small  estancias  ; but  a great  drawback,  I am  told, 
to  settling  there  is  the  fact  that  no  secure  titles  to  the  pro- 
perties are  procurable,  and  therefore  there  is  no  security  of 
occupation  in  the  event  of  acquiring  a piece  of  land.  An 
important  establishment  must  not  be  overlooked,  namely, 
the  saladero  of  Sehor  Aguirre,  situated  about  a league  below 
the  town  of  Carmen,  whence  a considerable  amount  of  hides 
and  tallow  is  exported  to  England.  During  my  stay  a 
North-German  or  Dutch  barque  was  lying  off  the  place 
loading  a cargo.  Besides  these  commodities,  the  exports  of 
Carmen  include  salt,  wheat,  ostrich  feathers,  and  peltries 
obtained  from  the  Indians,  and  some  few  ponchos  and  saddle- 
cloths ; while  the  imports  may  be  placed  under  the  head  of 
sundries  or  notions,  from  imitation  ponchos  and  cheap  finery 
to  Paraguay  tea  and  bad  spirits. 

Although  to  my  eyes,  so  long  accustomed  to  treeless  wastes, 
rocky  spur-like  mountains,  and  wild  grassy  valleys,  the  valley 
of  the  Rio  Negro  appeared  almost  a garden  of  Eden,  no 
doubt  to  any  new  arrival  from  England  it  would  not  have 
the  same  aspect.  The  valley  through  which  the  river  winds 
is  destitute  of  any  trees,  beside  the  fringe  of  tall  willows 
which  belt  the  stream,  extending  (except  perhaps  in  Sauce 
Blanco)  nowhere  more  than  a couple  of  hundred  yards  from 
the  bank.  The  plains  stretching  on  either  bank  to  the 
chaiial  and  scrub-covered  deserts  in  many  places  were  so 
closely  eaten  down  by  sheep  and  cattle  as  to  present  the 
minimum  of  vegetation,  at  least  in  the  winter  season. 


326 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


However  bare  and  unpromising  the  land  may  seem,  such 
is  the  fertility  of  the  soil  that  wheat  may  be  grown,  crop 
after  crop,  and  year  after  year,  on  the  same  land.  Potatoes 
attain  a very  large  size,  and  are  of  excellent  quality,  but 
these  are  chiefly  grown  in  the  islands  of  the  river. 

The  Government  have  lately  issued  orders  that  all  islands 
belong  inalienably  to  the  State,  and  all  present  occupiers  are 
obliged  to  pay  a small  head  rent  to  the  authorities,  which 
seems  to  point  at  future  occupation  of  Choelechel. 

Besides  potatoes,  all  other  European  vegetables  and  fruit- 
trees  grow  well ; tobacco  seems  to  thrive,  and  vines  promise 
to  furnish  a staple  of  export  in  the  shape  of  Rio  Negro  wine. 
In  one  of  the  islands,  occupied  by  Don  Benito  Crespo,  and 
leased  by  him  on  shares  to  some  Spaniards  from  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  Cadiz,  a great  number  of  vines  have  been  planted 
and  large  quantities  of  grapes  pressed  out  yearly.  The  wine, 
which  is  called  ‘ Chacoli,’  has  the  muscatel  flavour  and 
bouquet  of  Moselle,  and  is  a thin  pure  wine,  excellent  to 
drink  in  the  warm  weather,  as  it  is  by  itself  not  at  all  strong 
or  heady.  I should  imagine  that  it  would  not  bear  exporta- 
tion, but  Don  Benito  has  hopes  that  his  Andalusians  will 
shortly  be  able  to  produce  a superior  quality.  Besides  wine, 
I tasted  at  the  table  of  this  hospitable  gentleman  some 
brandy,  the  produce  of  the  same  grape ; it  was  of  course 
colourless,  of  good  taste,  but  any  number  of  degrees  over 
proof. 

A sportsman  can  always  find  amusement  either  in  shooting 
ducks,  partridges,  geese,  and  other  wild  fowl,  or  mounting 
his  horse  and  chasing  ostriches  or  deer  in  the  abras  or  open- 
ings running  far  up  like  inlets  of  grass  between  the  scrub - 
covered  promontories  of  the  barranca.  Fish  may  be  caught 
in  the  river,  chiefly,  I believe,  the  delicious  pejerey,*  or  large 
smelt,  and  those  perch-like  fish  described  as  existing  in  the 
rivers  of  Patagonia. 

For  guanaco,  the  pampas  near  San  Bias  must  be  visited, 
* Atheriniehtliys  Argentinensis.  Cunningham  p.  54. 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


327 


but  the  valley  and  the  lagoons  formed  by  backwaters  of  the 
river  furnish  abundance  of  black-necked  swans,  upland 
geese,  red-headed  ducks,  widgeon,  teal,  flamingoes,  and 
roseate  spoonbills. 

It  will  be  evident  that  to  any  active  and  enterprising 
young  men,  prepared  to  rough  it  a little,  and  possessed  of  a 
small  sum  of  ready  money,  who  wish  to  invest  in  land  and 
cultivate,  there  is  much  to  be  said  for  and  against  the  Kio 
Negro  as  a home.  The  land  may  be  had  at  a reasonable 
price,  and  little  clearing  is  required.  Implements  may  be 
brought  from  Buenos  Ayres,  either  in  a sailing  ship  or  by 
the  steamer  which  is  supposed  to  run  monthly,  though  rather 
uncertain  in  its  movements.  The  climate  is  pleasant  and 
healthy,  and  one  good  season  of  harvest  would  almost  repay 
the  outlay  on  a moderate  establishment. 

As  to  the  drawbacks  to  be  placed  on  the  contra  side,  the 
river  is  subject  at  times  to  floods,  at  other  times  droughts 
prevail,  and,  unless  artificial  irrigation  be  resorted  to, 
crops  will  fail,  besides  which  occasionally  a million  of 
locusts  will  save  the  farmer  the  trouble  of  reaping  his 
harvest ; the  cattle,  of  which  most  people  keep  enough  to 
supply  milk  and  meat  for  home  consumption,  may  be  run 
off  by  Indians ; and  last,  but  not  least,  the  settler  may  lose 
his  life  by  the  hand  of  some  felon.  But  no  colony  offers  a 
certainty  of  making  a rapid  fortune. 

The  great  mistake  most  English  settlers  make  is  going 
out  to  a place  with  the  idea  they  are  going  to  make  a 
‘ pile  ” in  a year  or  two,  and  then  return  to  Europe. 

In  my  opinion  the  settler  should  go  with  the  intention  of 
making  the  place  he  has  chosen  his  home  : then  if  successful 
he  can  return,  but  he  should  not  look  forward  to  it.  The 
Basque  population  are  looked  upon  in  the  Argentine  pro- 
vinces as  the  best  immigrants,  as  they  generally  stay  in  the 
country.  The  Italians,  on  the  contrary,  grub  away  for  some 
years,  starving  and  pinching,  until  they  have  amassed  a small 
sum  of  money  sufficient  to  enable  them  to  live  at  ease  in 


328 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


Italy,  while  English  and  all  others  are  looked  upon  as  people 
to  be  fleeced  if  possible.  Sheep-farming  in  the  Rio  Negro  is, 
I think,  to  be  avoided,  as  in  other  places  in  the  Argentine 
provinces.  Senor  Aguirre  told  me  that  he  had  lost  a large 
sum  of  money  in  this  investment,  and  many  of  my  country- 
men from  the  Rio  de  la  Plata  can  sympathise  with  him. 

Two  sturdy  Scotchmen  are  at  present  trying  the  experiment 
near  Carmen,  and  as  sheep  were  at  a low  price  when  they 
commenced,  they  may  succeed. 

It  is  a question  in  my  mind  whether  larch  or  araucaria 
pines  would  not  thrive  along  the  flats  bordering  the  river; 
perhaps  the  climate  is  too  dry  for  the  latter,  but  the  experi- 
ment is  almost  worth  trying  for  any  one  possessed  of  means 
and  inclination  to  take  up  his  abode  for  a term  of  years  in 
the  Rio  Negro.  For  my  own  part,  were  I a settler,  I should 
be  induced  to  confine  my  efforts  to  the  cultivation  of  the 
vine,  and  perhaps  tobacco,  keeping  of  course  the  necessary 
stock  of  animals  for  home  consumption. 

It  must  be  clearly  understood  that  I am  not  recommending 
or  interested  in  the  Rio  Negro  as  a place  to  which  intending 
emigrants  should  direct  their  thoughts  ; it  undoubtedly  pos- 
sesses great  natural  advantages,  which  are,  as  yet,  insuffi- 
ciently developed  by  most  of  the  colonists.  Their  estancias, 
with  the  exception  of  those  of  my  Scotch  and  English  friends, 
are  generally  small,  miserable -looking  tenements,  with  offal 
scattered  round  the  ill-kept  corral ; and  their  agriculture  is  as 
indifferent  as  the  neglected  appearance  of  the  houses  would 
suggest.  But  for  all  that,  there  is  not  a really  poor  man — 
except  in  consequence  of  his  own  laziness  or  drunken  habits 
— in  Carmen  and  its  vicinity,  and  labour  is  in  great  demand 
at  high  wages,  while  living  is  cheap,  which  experience,  since 
my  return,  has  taught  me  to  be  a painful  contrast  to  the  state 
of  our  own  population  at  home. 

I was  recalled  from  Rincon  Barrancas  and  my  speculations 
on  the  Rio  Negro  as  a field  for  emigrants  by  the  distant  view 
of  Indians,  espied  from  the  lookout  on  the  top  of  my  host’s 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


329 


house,  as  they  descended  from  the  travesia,  and  hastened  back 
to  the  town  to  receive  them,  according  to  promise.  It  will 
be  remembered  that  on  my  arrival  as  chasqui  I presented  to 
Sehor  Murga  my  despatches,  in  which  Casimiro  detailed  his 
arrangements  for  the  protection  of  Patagones.  A list  of  the 
chiefs  to  whom  rations  or  gifts  of  cattle,  horses,  &c.,  were  due, 
was  also  enclosed,  and  a request  that  a hundred  mares  should 
be  sent  out  at  once  with  the  returning  messengers.  After 
some  days’  delay  I was  sent  for  by  Sehor  Murga,  who,  it 
may  be  here  remarked,  is  reputed  to  thoroughly  understand 
the  Indians,  and  to  display  considerable  address  in  managing 
them.  It  was  amusing  to  observe  the  natural  suspicion  and 
perplexity  aroused  in  the  mind  of  the  Commandante  concern- 
ing my  position  among  the  Indians  ; and  my  reply  to  his 
question  as  to  what  rank  and  influence  I possessed  among 
them,  and  how  I was  interested  for  them — that  I was  simply 
a guest  and  friend — did  not  seem  at  all  sufficient  to  explain 
matters.  But  he  discussed  the  question  of  the  chiefs  and  their 
requests,  and  assured  me  that  all  the  chiefs  who  should  be 
found  to  be  entitled  to  rations  should  duly  receive  them : he, 
however,  absolutely  refused  to  send  out  any  mares,  declaring 
that  Casimiro  should  receive  all  his  dues  when  he  arrived. 

As  the  grand  cacique  had  for  several  years  not  drawn  his 
annual  allowance,  amounting  to  200  cows,  100  mares,  500 
sheep,  and  a quantity  of  clothes  and  yerba,  it  can  be  well 
imagined  that  with  fair  play  and  prudence  he  would,  on  this 
visit,  become  a wealthy  as  well  as  powerful  cacique,  as  a 
reward  for  his  labours.  At  his  previous  visit  he  had  left  a 
quantity  of  cattle  and  sheep,  under  charge  of  some  of  the  Tame 
Indians,  to  increase  and  multiply  ; but  alas ! on  his  arrival, 
in  reply  to  his  inquiries,  only  one  small  flock  of  sheep  was 
forthcoming,  the  rest,  instead  of  multiplying,  having  been 
gambled  away  by  their  guardians.  The  liberality  of  the 
Argentines  and  the  largeness  of  the  gifts  may  appear  sur- 
prising ; and  indeed  the  nominal  value,  as  charged  to  the 
Government  for  these  annual  gifts  to  the  Indians,  is  very 


330 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


great.  I saw  myself  1,000  head  of  cattle  pass  on  their  way 
to  Rouque,  and  Cheoeque  was  expecting  1,200.  The  cattle 
were  brought  down  from  the  Tandil  by  purveyors,  whose 
business  must  be  as  lucrative  as  that  of  the  American  army 
contractors  ; for  the  Indians  are  sometimes  when  sober,  or 
oftener  when  intoxicated,  induced  to  part  with  their  newly- 
acquired  possessions  for  a mere  trifle,  and  the  cattle,  revert- 
ing to  the  dealer’s  hands,  thus  do  duty  over  again  as  a ration 
perhaps  to  the  same  cacique.  Thus  the  Indians  benefit  but 
little,  while  the  Government  pays  a large  amount,  and  the 
purveyors  and  other  agents  grow  rich,  Indians  and  Govern- 
ment being  esteemed  apparently  as  lawful  and  natural  pigeons, 
to  be  plucked  by  any  safe  means. 

The  Commandante’s  reply  had  been  duly  forwarded  to 
Casimiro,  together  with  some  liquor  and  presents  for  my 
friends ; and  the  morning  following  my  return  from  the 
country  I was  awoke  early  by  a knock  at  the  door,  and  on 
opening  it  found  five  or  six  Tehuelches  who  had  made  their 
way  over  the  river  to  my  quarters.  After  giving  them  a mate, 
we  all  proceeded  to  the  store,  and  I gave  one  or  two  some 
small  presents.  Among  these  first  arrivals  was  my  friend 
Jackechan,  the  cacique  from  the  Chupat,  who  confided  to  me 
that  he  had  been  very  drunk  the  night  before.  The  Tehuelches 
had  not,  however,  waited  till  they  reached  the  settlements 
for  an  opportunity  of  abandoning  themselves  to  the  pernicious 
enjoyment  of  ‘ lum.’  It  soon  came  out  that  them  delay  at 
Valchita  had  been  necessitated  by  a prolonged  debauch  on 
liquor  procured  from  the  Guardia.  Casimiro  had  of  course 
set  the  example,  and  the  drink  had,  as  usual,  also  led  to 
quarrelling,  wdiich  resulted  in  a general  fight;  several  had  been 
killed,  including  Cayuke,  so  often  mentioned  as  a staunch 
friend  ; and  I was  greatly  grieved  at  being  unable  to  get  any 
accurate  tidings  of  my  Herculean  comrade  the  good-natured 
Waki,  who  had,  beyond  doubt,  been  killed  at  the  same  time. 

Such  common  occurrences  were  little  regarded  by  my 
visitors,  all  of  whom  were  caciquillos,  and  whom  I presently 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


331 


dismissed  rejoicing,  with  a promise  to  visit  them  on  the  south 
side  in  the  evening.  But  my  troubles  had  only  just  com- 
menced. All  day  long  Tehuelches  kept  arriving,  and  not 
knowing  what  to  do  with  themselves,  followed  me  about 
wherever  I went,  much  to  the  amusement  of  some  of  my 
acquaintances. 

In  the  evening  I crossed  to  the  other  side,  and  remained 
for  the  night  with  my  old  hosts.  All  were  in  a great  state 
of  delight,  as  their  rations  were  to  be  given  them  without 
delay — the  yerba,  sugar,  and  spirits  from  Aguirre’s  stores, 
and  the  cattle  and  mares  from  the  Guardia  in  front  of  Sauce 
Blanco.  Old  Orkeke,  who  had  not  expected  to  receive 
rations,  had  been  allowed,  in  consequence  of  my  urging  his 
claims,  the  same  as  other  minor  chiefs,  and  was  consequently 
in  high  delight. 

They  were,  on  the  other  hand,  very  dissatisfied  at  the  ex- 
tremely low  prices  which  their  feathers  and  peltries  had 
realised,  and  abused  the  dealers  very  roundly  as  a lot  of 
rogues.  False  weights  and  other  tricks  of  trade  had  been 
freely  employed  to  cheat  the  Indians  ; and  the  storekeepers 
also  charged  exorbitantly  for  necessaries  supplied  to  them. 
Their  custom  is  to  bivouac  in  the  yards  or  corrals  at  the 
back  of  the  stores,  where  they  light  fires  and  cook  as  in  their 
own  country,  and  pay  in  the  end  as  dearly  for  their  accommo- 
dation as  if  in  a West  End  hotel.  I delighted  the  heart  of 
Mrs.  Orkeke  by  presenting  her  with  a long-promised  iron  pot 
and  a shawl ; and  to  Hinchel’s  son  I gave  a promised  pack  of 
cards,  and  to  the  children  raisins,  sweets,  or  bread. 

Jackechan’s  wife  and  daughter,  who  had  always  showed 
me  great  kindness,  I took  into  the  store,  and  told  them  to 
choose  whatever  they  fancied  most ; whereupon  they  both, 
without  hesitation,  selected  two  small  bottles  of  scent  to  put 
on  their  hair.  I must  remark,  en  passant,  that  all  this  family 
were  exceptionally  clean  in  them  habits  and  persons,  and  I 
promised,  if  I returned  to  Patagonia,  to  travel  in  their  toldo, 
as  I had  then  some  idea  of  journeying  by  the  sea-coast  to 


332 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


the  Chupat,  and  perhaps  to  Santa  Cruz.  Jackechan’s  son— 
the  boy  with  light  hair  and  complexion — volunteered  to 
come  to  England  with  me,  and  I consented  to  take  him  ; but 
on  hearing  that  there  were  no  ostriches  or  guanaco  where  we 
were  going,  he  thought  better  of  it. 

Some  of  Quintuhual’s  and  Foyel’s  people  also  arrived,  but 
behaved  themselves  in  a very  different  manner  to  the  Tehuel- 
ches.  Their  women  and  children  had  all  been  left  in  Gey- 
lum,  and  the  men  walked  about  in  a very  independent 
manner,  with  a proud,  superior  bearing,  not  condescending  to 
admire  anything,  or  to  ask  for  any  presents.  One  of  them, 
on  the  boatman  requesting  his  fare  for  bringing  him  across 
the  river,  refused  flatly,  and  then  drew  his  revolver  to 
enforce  his  denial. 

Last,  but  not  least,  as  became  so  great  a personage, 
Casimiro  arrived,  attended  by  Mena,  who  acted  as  secretary. 
His  costume  had  suffered  considerably  from  his  late  pursuits, 
and  his  appearance  was  by  no  means  improved  by  a gash  in  his 
face  received  from  a Manzanero  in  a brawl  at  Sauce  Blanco. 
He  installed  himself  in  the  hotel,  hired  the  fifes  and  drums 
of  the  garrison  to  play  whilst  he  was  at  breakfast,  and  for 
two  days  kept  open  house  for  all  comers,  ending  the  day  in 
an  advanced  state  of  intoxication. 

At  the  end  of  this  debauch  a bill  was  handed  to  him  which, 
I should  think,  took  the  value  of  nearly  half  his  rations.  This 
sobered  him,  and  he,  taking  my  advice,  left  the  hotel,  and 
crossing  the  river  proceeded  to  Sauce  Blanco  to  look  after 
his  rations  and  Indians.  On  the  whole,  the  Indians  behaved 
very  well  whilst  in  the  settlement.  I saw,  of  course,  some 
drunkenness,  but  not  nearly  so  much  as  I had  expected.  One 
and  all  parted  from  me  with  most  cordial  farewells,  and 
pressed  me  to  return  to  the  Pampa,  as  they  call  it,  as  soon 
as  possible.  Jackechan  was  one  of  the  last  to  leave.  He,  as 
well  as  one  or  two  of  the  others,  had  found  an  old  acquaint- 
ance in  Mr.  Humphreys,  formerly  of  the  Chupat  colony,  but 
now  settled  in  Patagones  as  carpenter.  We  all  met  in  Mr. 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


333 


Humphreys’s  house  one  Sunday  after  church,  and  had  a 
long  talk  relative  to  this  Chupat  settlement,  and  to  the  answer 
received  to  my  letter  brought  by  Jackechan’s  chasqui.  The 
statement  in  it  that  the  settlers  had  no  stores  of  any  sort, 
and  that  of  the  Indian  messenger  that  they  were  almost 
destitute  of  clothing,  have  been  fully  corroborated  by  the 
despatches  of  Commander  Dennistoun,  H.M.S.  Cracker,  pub- 
lished whilst  these  pages  were  being  written.  Mr.  Hum- 
phreys considered  himself  and  the  few  companions  who  had 
accompanied  him  to  the  Rio  Negro  fortunate  in  having  left 
when  they  did ; and  all  agreed  that  the  colonists  would  do 
better  if  transferred  to  the  Rio  Negro,  where  those  who  were 
skilled  in  trades  would  be  able  to  live  in  comparative  ease, 
and  the  mere  labourers  find  plenty  of  work,  and  be  able  at 
any  rate  to  maintain  themselves.  I cannot  but  record  my 
astonishment  that  Mr.  Lewis  Jones — who,  although  I am 
not  personally  acquainted  with  him,  must,  from  the  report 
given  me  by  the  Indians,  be  a man  of  no  ordinary  under- 
standing-should endeavour  to  maintain  the  colony  in  a 
place  which  had  formerly  been  tried  by  others  and  aban- 
doned as  hopeless,  the  distance  of  the  harbour — thirty  miles 
off — alone  being  a certain  obstacle  to  its  prosperity. 

The  visionary  scheme  of  a Welsh  Utopia,  in  pursuit  of 
which  these  unfortunate  emigrants  settled  themselves,  ought 
not  to  be  encouraged,  likely  as  it  is  to  end  in  the  starvation 
of  the  victims  to  it.  Had  it  not  been  for  the  charity  of  the 
Argentine  Government,  this  must  have  been  their  fate  ere 
now.  Jackechan  described  to  me  that  he  had  seen  the  set- 
tlers ‘ eating  grass,’  and  had  taught  some  of  them  how  to 
hunt,  and  furnished  them  with  bolas.  The  Blue  Book  just 
published  confirms  the  truth  of  this  statement,  and  perhaps 
renders  it  needless  for  me  to  go  more  into  the  subject;  but  I 
must  add  that,  though  at  that  time  friendly  and  well-dis- 
posed, this  chief  considered  the  settlers  as  intruders  on  his 
territory,  and  avowed  his  intention  of  demanding  payment  at 
a future  time — a refusal  of  rent  being  in  such  a case  sure  to 


334 


AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


be  followed  by  a very  summary  process  of  cattle  driving  and 
eviction. 

The  Rio  Negro,  with  all  its  drawbacks  of  Indians,  locusts, 
floods,  and  droughts,  is  certainly  infinitely  superior  to  the 
Chupat.  If  the  Welsh  wish  to  live  as  a separate  community, 
I am  sure  that  Sehor  Aguirre  will  only  be  too  happy  to  let 
them  settle  on  his  tract  of  land  between  the  Upper  and 
Second  Guardia,  where  already  some  of  their  countrymen — 
Messrs.  Williams  and  Owen — have  taken  land. 

After  the  Indians  had  left,  I gave  myself  over  to  the  enjoy- 
ments of  social  life  in  Patagones,  which  did  not  prove  suffi- 
cient to  reconcile  me  to  the  delay  consequent  on  the  non- 
arrival of  the  steamer.  My  days  were  spent  in  walking 
about,  playing  billiards,  and  taking  mate  ; and  a visit  in  the 
evening  to  Don  Domingo’s,  where  a party  Avere  in  the  habit 
of  meeting  to  play  ‘ truco’  for  sweetmeats.  Sometimes  we 
varied  this  by  calling  on  some  of  the  fair  senoritas,  or  spend- 
ing the  evening  at  the  house  of  Mr.  Davis,  the  engineer  of 
the  Choelechel,  in  the  company  of  his  amiable  sehord.  All  the 
young  ladies  agreed  that  Patagones  was  very  triste,  espe- 
cially those  who  had  been  to  Buenos  Ayres,  and  had  enjoyed 
the  delights  of  the  opera  and  bands  of  music  in  the  Plaza. 

On  Sundays,  after  mass  and  service  in  the  mission  station, 
attended  by  all  the  English,  a race  would  sometimes  take 
place,  or,  in  default,  there  would  be  sure  to  be  a cock-fight 
held  on  the  south  side  ; at  either  of  which  Commandante 
Murga  invariably  attended.  There  was  also  a fives  court, 
where  some  Basques  or  natives  were  generally  to  be  found 
playing.  Once  or  twice  I accompanied  Dr.  Humble — not, 
however,  on  Sunday — in  a pull  on  the  river.  Every  day  we 
looked  out  anxiously  for  the  steamer,  which  had  been  so 
long  overdue  as  to  make  it  appear  probable  that  she  had  met 
with  an  accident.  Tired  of  the  delay,  I had  just  negotiated 
my  passage  in  a Dutch  schooner  laden  with  grain  for 
Buenos  Ayres,  when  one  evening  the  steamer  arrived,  having 
been  delayed  in  Bahia  Blanca. 


THE  RIO  NEGRO  SETTLEMENTS. 


335 


In  the  morning  I was  agreeably  surprised  by  the  size  of 
the  steamer,  formerly  the  Montauk,  of  Boston,  but  re- 
christened the  Patagones,  and  owned  by  Messrs.  Aguirre 
and  Murga.  She  was  very  well  fitted  up  as  regards  accom- 
modation, but  all  the  decks,  cabins,  and  every  part  of  her 
presented  a very  dirty  appearance. 

After  two  days’  stay  she  hoisted  the  blue  peter,  and, 
having  taken  my  passage,  together  with  Messrs.  Fraser 
and  Kincaid,  who  were  going]  to  Buenos  Ayres  onj  business, 
and  Mr.  Gibb,  who  was  on  his  return  to  Europe,  repaired  on 
board,  where  we  found  a considerable  number  of  passengers 
assembled  ; the  distinguished  billiard-marker  who  had  annexed 
the  clock  amongst  the  number.  About  four  p.m.  we  weighed, 
and,  bidding  adieu  to  Patagones,  started  down  the  river  with 
the  ebb  tide,  intending  to  anchor  for  the  night  in  the  Boca, 
and  cross  the  long  line  of  sandbank,  which  forms  a danger- 
ous bar,  with  the  morning  tide.  We  steamed  along  smoothly 
enough  until  just  well  within  sight  of  the  ships  lying  in  the 
Boca,  when  a sudden  concussion  announced  that  she  was 
ashore  on  a sandbank,  where  she  had  stuck  hard  and  fast. 
We  thought  little  of  this  misadventure,  expecting  to  be  off  at 
high  tide,  and  some  of  us  went  on  shore  and  picnicked  on 
the  flats  bordering  the  river.  We  returned  about  ten,  and 
about  midnight  I was  awoke  up  by  hearing  one  of  the  funnel 
guys  snap,  and,  going  on  deck,  found  that,  though  the  bow 
of  the  ship  was  high  out  of  the  water,  the  stern  was  in 
deep  water,  and  the  ship  severely  straining  amidships  in 
consequence.  A few  minutes  after  the  main  steam  pipe 
broke  : the  steam  had,  however,  luckily,  been  turned  off, 
or  the  consequences  would  have  been  disastrous  to  those 
in  the  after-part  of  the  ship.  The  ladies  were  then  landed, 
for  fear  of  accidents,  and  the  remainder  of  us  held  a con- 
sultation as  to  how  we  should  get  to  Buenos  Ayres,  and 
ultimately  went  to  sleep  on  it. 

The  following  morning  the  Choelechel  came  down  and 
succeeded  in  towing  the  vessel  off,  and  the  Dutch  captain  of 


336  AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 

the  schooner  came  on  board  and  agreed  to  take  me  and  some 
others  on  to  Buenos  Ayres.  We  accordingly  jumped  into  a 
boat,  and  proceeding  down  to  the  Boca,  got  on  board  the 
schooner,  hoping  to  sail  the  next  day ; but  were  again 
doomed  to  be  disappointed. 

The  captain  went  up  to  buy  provisions,  and  did  not  return 
till  late  the  following  evening.  Meantime  the  wind  set  in 
foul  in  the  morning,  and  the  line  of  roaring  white  breakers 
on  the  bar  showed  the  impossibility  of  sailing ; so  we  were 
compelled  to  wait,  looking  out  on  the  dreary  sand-dunes 
which  narrowed  the  entrance  to  the  river  on  either  side. 

Some  of  us  went  on  shore  to  visit  the  pilot  station,  and 
had  a talk  with  the  pilot,  a brave  old  German  or  Dutchman. 
This  veteran  and  his  men  had  successfully  defended  his 
station  against  a large  force  of  Indians  in  the  raid  of 
Lenquetrou.  The  enemy  desired  to  get  possession  of  a 
howitzer  which  is  kept  in  the  station,  and  the  Indians 
rushed  actually  up  to  the  enclosure,  while  the  men  fired  on 
them  almost  muzzle  to  their  breasts,  at  last  succeeding  in 
beating  them  off  with  immense  loss. 

The  boat’s  crew  consisted  of  men  of  all  nations.  I got 
into  conversation  with  one,  at  first  in  Spanish,  then  in 
English.  After  lending  me  his  pipe,  he  looked  hard  at  me, 
and  said,  ‘ I knowyou : I am  Pat  Sweeny,  and  ran  away  from 
the  Sheldrake.  What  ship  did  you  run  away  from  ?’  I 
was  not  dressed  in  my  best  clothes,  and  looked  doubtless 
weatherbeaten  enough  ; but  I recognised  my  friend,  though 
he  failed  to  remember  me,  and  was  not  enlightened  as  to  my 
identity.  Several  weary  days  were  spent  in  drinking 
schnapps,  and  ineffectually  trying  to  catch  fish,  when  at  last 
a fair  breeze  sprang  up,  which  speedily  wafted  us  out  of 
sight  of  the  Patagonian  shores,  and  after  a boisterous  pas- 
sage of  six  days  the  anchor  was  dropped  off  Buenos  Ayres. 


APPENDIX  A. 


A partial  Vocabulary  of  the  Tsoneca  Language,  as  spoken  by  the 
Northern  Tehuelches. 


English. 

Ahonicanka, 

English. 

Ahonicanka, 

ok  Tsoneca. 

oh  Tsoneca. 

I or  mine 

ya 

jealous 

ynaien 

you  or  yours 

ma 

foolish 

chops 

his  or  hers 

ti 

quick 

sourno 

this  one  or  he 

win 

good 

ketz 

who 

hem 

prett}' 

coquet 

here 

nanik 

bad 

terosh 

( mawoori 

ill 

hammersh 

there 

j mawook 

hot 

yporsk 

^ mon 

cold 

kekoosh 

where 

kinik 

big 

chaish 

when 

kenoesh 

little 

talenque 

what 

ket 

light 

hoppen 

how 

— 

heavy 

pogelsh 

how  much  oi%  many  kinkein  kerum 

like 

nourks 

above 

eok 

far 

doujis 

j penk 

near 

ekel 

below 

\ wumka 

similar 

wdks 

immediately 

marso 

tired 

wotysk 

to-morrow 

nush 

hungry 

pashlik 

yesterday 

nush 

difficult 

wiekenji 

day  after  to- 

eounnush 

hard 

chornk 

morrow 

soft 

kattn 

quickly 

gemmo 

ready 

kush 

yes 

ahon  {very  guttural) 

Exclamations. 

no 

kompsh 

man  ( Indian ) 

ahonican 

of  surprise 

wati,  wati,  wati 

man  ( Christian ) 

hdehish 

of  auger 

worrioo-wdlloo 

people  ( Indian ) 

tchonik 

curse  it 

nourenk  y sd 

woman  ( married ) 

karken 

on  erring  with  the  wow 

father 

yank 

bolas 

mother 

yanna 

on  catching  an  ani-  kow 

wife 

ysher 

mal  or  in  fighting 

son 

ykallum 

338  AT  HOME  WITH  THE  PATAGONIANS. 


English, 

Ahonicanka, 
oe  Tsoneca. 

brother 

yten 

sister 

ystshen 

children 

coquetra 

friend 0)- companion  gennow 

head 

kittar 

eyes 

otl 

pose 

tchal 

tongue 

tal 

jips 

chum 

teeth 

oer 

hands 

tsicc’r 

legs 

uoa 

feet 

shankence 

toldo  or  house 

kou 

poles  for  ditto 

ho 

hides,  ditto 

wummuin 

thongs 

cowan 

mantle 

kai 

fillet  for  hair 

kotcbi 

boots 

tsuccre 

clothes 

kakewit 

hat 

kor 

bolas  ( three  balls) 

yatschiko 

bolas  (two  balls) 

churne 

sinews 

katz 

lazo 

laso 

knife 

paiken 

gun 

gilwurn 

revolver 

gilwinikush 

powder 

tchampum 

caps 

kun 

lance 

waike 

pot  ( for  cookiny) 

askem 

bottle 

oetre 

barrel 

barr 

(bodkin)  needle, 

or  hiillen 

nail 

bag 

hiill 

( aniwee 

pipe 

( conganou 

tobacco 

golk 

saddle 

tusk 

bridle 

hum 

bit 

kankion 

stirrups 

keshon 

spurs 

wateren 

girth 

genig 

straps  for  securing  kaligi 

horses’  legs 

English. 

Ahonicanka, 
oe  Tsoneca. 

whip 

wakenem 

belt 

wati 

sun  (or  a day) 

gengenko 

moon  (or  a month)  showan 

stars 

daskren- 

a year 

tsor 

fire 

yaik 

water 

l<$y 

snow 

gdl 

wind 

hoshen 

rain 

tdwa 

smoke 

paan 

clouds 

pdwall 

night 

queyomen 

wood 

kaki 

hill 

yorri 

place 

haik 

land  or  country 

yerroen 

river 

koona 

road 

nooma 

poncho 

lecho 

meat 

stones 

yipper 

ksttcb 

rocks 

air 

grass  ) 

kor 

pasture  ) 

oet 

broth  or  tea 

ddsleisb 

horse 

( ewoe 
) cawall 

cattle 

choi 

sheep 

cdmpan 

large  deer 

shden 

guanaco 

rou 

ostrich  (or  rhea) 

mikkeoush 

puma 

gol  _ 

fox 

paltn 

skunk 

wickster 

armadillo 

dno 

hare 

paahi 

fowls 

peyou 

fawn  or  colt 

kooroo 

skins 

wummuq 

gold 

winki 

eggs 

oom 

bones 

kotsh 

marrow 

tcham 

grease 

am 

a chief 

gounok 

fish 

oin 

VOCABULARY. 


339 


English, 

Ahonicanka, 
or  Tsoneca, 

marriage 

coyenk 

wild  potatoes 

appely 

sleep 

shensk 

a file 

kikeriki 

council 

aix 

ill 

hammersh 

ship 

youlel 

gum  or  rosin 

maki 

cards 

bersen 

sit  down 

pespesh 

catch 

korigi 

to  be  tired 

ywotisk 

I go 

yschengs 

lie  goes 

wansk 

he  has 

hell 

give  me 

moyout 

lend  me 

mon 

write 

aakren 

buy 

amili 

change 

quewarien 

I am  tired 

wotyskiya 

I am  hungry 

pashlik  ya 

[ am  sleepy 

yshengk 

to  kill 

ymuck 

to  fight 

ywowesk 

to  sing 

yworrish 

I like 

yshorske  ya 

to  mount  on  ( 

i amcotts 

horseback  j 

1 oin 

to  race 

kdttern 

to  send  messenger 

wickeni  eoeto 

to  talk 

ayensh 

1 understand 

ya  omkes 

I do  not  understand  ytonkes 

Come  along 

heroschengs 

to  hunt 

aoukem 

to  speak 

kinscott 

to  do  a thing 

micheten 

make 

mdki 

to  work 

tirsk 

English, 

Ahonicanka, 
or  Tsoneca. 

to  light 

kaime 

to  fill 

meshawr 

to  eat 

shehattn 

march 

vvden 

to  hr&ak 

charsk 

to  play 

nayensh 

Colours. 

black 

chorlo 

white 

golwin 

yellow 

waieken 

green 

arkum 

red 

kaopen 

blue 

kaliken 

brown  or  bay 

soorsh 

piebald 

hogel 

Numerals, 

one 

chuche 

two 

houke 

three 

aas 

four 

carge 

five 

ktsin 

six 

winikush 

seven 

ouk 

eight 

winicarge 

nine 

humanakoutsen 

ten 

kake 

eleven 

chuche  kor 

twelve 

houke  kor 

thirteen 

aas  kor 

kor  added  up  to  twenty 

twenty 

w'ommenikukikor 

thirty 

aasenikaki 

forty 

pargekaki 

fifty 

ktsinkalu 

a hundred 

patack 

a thousand 

huaranca 

English, 
Thank  you 
Lend  me  the  pipe 
Catch  my  horse 
Come  along,  friend 


Some  Sentences. 

Ahonicanka,  or  Tsoneca, 
Nouremi  naki 

Mon  aniwee — aniwee  moyout 
Korigi  ya 

Heroschengs  gennow 


340 


AT  DOME  WITH  TIIE  PATAGONIANS. 


English. 

Will  you  come  out  hunting?  {Lit. 

Come  out  hunting,  tell  me.) 
The  people  are  fighting 
How  many  are  killed  ? 

Where  are  you  going  ? 

Cook  some  meat  ; I am  hungry 
I understand  Indian 
I like  your  wife 
What  do  you  want  ? 

It  rains  much  to-day 
We  are  going  to  see  many  people 
We  are  going  to  see  another 
country 

Come  here  quickly 
What  do  you  buy  ? 


Ahonicanka,  or  Tsoneca. 
Heros  aoukemshaw  kinscott  ya 

Ywowishk  chonik 
Kinkeinkerum  ymuck 
Kinek  nis  chengs 
Herdsh  yipper  wummi  pashlik  ya 
Omkes  Ahonicanka 
Ma  yshorsks  ysher 
Keterum  kam  ? 

Chaiske  nush  que  tewa 
Wushkaeye  seonk  chonik 
Wushkaeye  kaiok  yerroen 

Gommo  heout  witka 
Ket,  m amli 


APPENDIX  B. 


Testimony  of  successive  Voyagers  to  the  Stature  of  the  Patagonians. 


A.D. 

1520.  Pigafetta  . 

1578.  Drake. 

1591.  Knyvet 
1598.  Van  Noort  . 
1615.  Schouten 
1669.  Narhorough 
1750.  Falkner 
1764.  Byron 

1766.  Wallis 


1783.  Viedma 
1829.  D’Orbigny  . 

1833.  Fitzroy  and  Darwin 


1867-8.  Cunningham 


The  least,  taller  than  the  tallest  men  in 
Castile. 

Not  taller  than  some  Englishmen. 

Fifteen  or  sixteen  spans  high. 

Natives  of  tall  stature. 

Human  skeletons  10  or  11  feet  long. 

Mr.  Wood  was  taller  than  any  of  them. 

A cacique  7 feet  and  some  inches  high. 

A chief  about  7 feet  high,  and  few  of  the 
others  shorter. 

Measured  some  of  the  tallest : one  was 
6 feet  7 inches,  several  6 feet  5 inches  ; 
the  average  height  was  between  5 feet 
10  inches  and  6 feet. 

Generally  6 feet  high. 

Never  found  any  exceeding  5 feet  11 
inches  ; average  height  5 feet  4 inches. 

Tallest  average  of  any  people  ; average 
height  6 feet,  some  taller  and  a few 
shorter. 

Rarely  less  than  5 feet  11  inches  in 
height,  and  often  exceeding  6 feet  by 
a few  inches.  One  measured  6 feet  10 
inches. 


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CHILOF.  I. 


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